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24 September 2014

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The Space Museum

Production Code: Q

First Transmitted

The Space Museum - 24/04/1965 17:40

The Dimensions of Time - 01/05/1965 17:50

The Search - 08/05/1965 18:00

The Final Phase - 15/05/1965 17:40


The TARDIS jumps a time track and the travellers arrive on the planet Xeros. There they discover their own future selves displayed as exhibits in a museum established as a monument to the galactic conquests of the warlike Morok invaders who now rule the planet. When time shifts back to normal, they realise that they must do everything they can to try to avert this potential future.

Vicki helps the native Xerons to obtain arms and thereby to revolt against the Moroks. The revolution succeeds and the travellers go on their way, confident that the future has been changed.

Episode Endings

The Doctor and his friends have found themselves displayed in the Morok museum. As they watch, time shifts back onto the correct track. The exhibits vanish; the Moroks find the TARDIS and the travellers' footprints in the sand; and the Doctor portentously announces that he and his companions have arrived.

Having failed to obtain any useful information from interrogating the Doctor, the Morok governor Lobos has him taken away to the preparation room to be converted into a museum exhibit.

Ian uses a stolen gun to force a guard to take him to Lobos, who tells him that the Doctor is in the second stage of preparation and nothing now can help him. Ian insists on being taken to the Doctor and, when Lobos complies, Ian is astounded by what he sees.

On an apparently barren planet, somewhere in space, a Dalek reports that the TARDIS has left Xeros. A Dalek voice emanating from a communications panel states that the Daleks' own time machine will shortly be in pursuit and that the Doctor will soon be exterminated.


J.B. Priestley's time plays.

The complexities of time lines, as presented in The Twilight Zone.

The theory of relativity.

The chair that traps a sitting person was a common Renaissance subterfuge (now best known in John Ford's tragedy The Broken Heart).

Dialogue Triumphs

Vicki : "We must have changed the future... we must have done!"

Barbara Wright : "Must we, Vicki? Or were all the things that happened planned out for us?"

Dialogue Disasters

Morok : [One of the great stupid lines in Doctor Who.] "Have any arms fallen into Xeron hands?"


The TARDIS has a 'lights' control on the console. The Moroks used a paralytic called Zaphra gas during the creation of their Empire. After this collapsed their Space Museum remained on Xeros (three light years from the Morok planet.) The museum includes a Dalek. Vicki knows of the Daleks from history books stating that they invaded Earth '300 years ago' [from her point of view: she's about 40 years out. See The Rescue, The Dalek Invasion of Earth].

Ian uses Barbara's cardigan (and the Minotaur legend) in an attempt to find a way out of the museum (see The Chase for more fun with cardigans and The Mind Robber, The Time Monster, The Creature from the Pit and The Horns of Nimon for more Minotaurs).

In the museum, the Doctor finds (and is given) the Time Space Visualiser.


The Space Museum, Xeros, [post 2493: Vicki says that scientists from Earth were working on the TSV when she left in 2493].


The Doctor claims he was with James Watt when he discovered steam power.


In a nice piece of continuity, William Russell starts gently banging his fists together as he leaves the TARDIS interior set and carries this through to the next scene, following a recording break, as he emerges from the police box onto the Xeros surface set; this gives the effect of a continuous piece of action, and helps maintain the illusion that the TARDIS interior really is inside the police box shell.

Some of the tables from the Sensorite city (in The Sensorites) turn up in the Moroks' museum.

Jeremy Bulloch, now better known for his role as Boba Fett in the Star Wars films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, plays Tor. He would later appear in the season eleven story The Time Warrior.

The Doctor's only appearance in the third episode is in the opening reprise from the second, as William Hartnell was on holiday during the week in which it was recorded.

There is an amusing scene in which the Doctor hides inside a Dalek casing - an exhibit in the Moroks' museum.

During the sequence in which Lobos tries to interrogate the Doctor using a machine that displays his prisoner's thoughts on a screen, the Doctor feeds the device a series of amusing false images, including a photograph of himself wearing a Victorian bathing costume.

The incidental music used came from stock recordings rather than being specially composed.


The Space Museum was a low-budget story - hence the rather drab look of some of the sets. (The story had a similar budget, and cost much the same to make, as other four-parters at this point in the series' history.)


Time, like space, although a dimension of itself, also has dimensions of its own,' says Vicki. The Moroks are armed with 'ray guns'.


In episode one, Ian says they are wearing thirteenth century clothes, the previous story being set in the twelfth century.

When they leave the TARDIS, their shadows are cast over the distant mountains.

How does the Doctor get the Time Space Visualiser into the TARDIS?

William Hartnell, explaining where the light in the museum comes from, has three attempts at "flourescent".

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - William Hartnell

Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill

Ian Chesterton - William Russell

Vicki - Maureen O'Brien

Dako - Peter Craze

Dalek Machine Operator - Murphy Grumbar

Dalek Voice - Peter Hawkins

Lobos - Richard Shaw

Morok Commander - Ivor Salter

Morok Guard - Lawrence Dean

Morok Guard - Ken Norris

Morok Guard - Salvin Stewart

Morok Guard - Peter Diamond

Morok Guard - Billy Cornelius

Morok Messenger - Salvin Stewart

Morok Technician - Peter Diamond

Sita - Peter Sanders

Third Xeron - Bill Starkey

Tor - Jeremy Bulloch

Xeron - Michael Gordon

Xeron - Edward Granville

Xeron - David Wolliscroft

Xeron - Bill Starkey


Director - Mervyn Pinfield

Assistant Floor Manager - John Tait

Assistant Floor Manager - Caroline Walmsley

Costumes - Daphne Dare

Costumes - Tony Pearce

Designer - Spencer Chapman

Fight Arranger - Peter Diamond

Make-Up - Sonia Markham

Producer - Verity Lambert

Production Assistant - Snowy White

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Dennis Spooner

Studio Lighting - Howard King

Studio Sound - George Prince

Studio Sound - Ray Angel

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

Writer - Glyn Jones

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'The future doesn't look too bad after all, does it?' A silly 'fascists-and-rebels' runaround following a very weird first episode.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Space Museum starts strongly, as reflected in the comments recorded in the BBC's Audience Research Report on its fine first episode: '[It] made a promising start... according to many in the sample, who found the idea of time as the fourth dimension and the "jumping of a time track" most intriguing, and one which apparently stimulated much discussion in several households. This was a novel theory that had obviously been cleverly thought out, it was often remarked, and there was plenty of excitement and mystery here, they said, to whet the appetite for future instalments. A docker voiced the opinion of a substantial proportion of those reporting in his comment that "We are now getting back to the real appeal of Doctor Who - the unknown and out of the ordinary"...'

Paul Mount, writing in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1982, was similarly enthusiastic about this early part of the story: 'The magic of the serial lay in its excellent first two episodes, where time itself played some rather unusual tricks on the Doctor and his friends.'

Unfortunately, after this promising beginning, the whole thing falls as flat as a pancake. The problem rests mainly with the guest cast. Richard Shaw as Lobos gives one of the worst performances yet seen in the series. His delivery of the dialogue is stilted and unreal, and he is altogether wooden. The other Morok actors are almost as bad, making them a very weak and ineffective bunch of conquerors. The Xerons, with their strange double eyebrows, fare little better. They are given little to do in the scripts and come over as a pretty wet and nondescript bunch.

It is only the four regulars who manage to give a good account of themselves, their natural and experienced performances highlighting the inadequacies of the guest cast. Of particular note is Maureen O'Brien as Vicki, who manages to shine in a story that allows her far more scope than of late.

All this is a great shame, as the central question posed by the story - that of whether the future is predestined or can be changed - is a very interesting one. This issue dominates the travellers' thoughts as they realise that everything they do, every decision they make, may be either leading them closer to becoming exhibits or taking them further away from that fate. The problem is that they don't know, and are even forced to consider the possibility that to do nothing might be the best option - or is that the path to their unpleasant demise?

The failure of the story to deliver on its initial promise was noted in the BBC's Audience Research Report on The Final Phase: '"A very poor ending to what promised at first to be a better story" was a comment that represented the view of a large proportion of the sample, several of whom remarked that this was not the first time that the plot had "crumpled" in the final episode, as if, they suggested, the writer had suddenly lost interest and was in a hurry to get the TARDIS and its occupants away to another adventure. Too many loose ends were tied up too hastily, they protested, and ideas were not fully developed... A substantial minority considered it "a load of drivel": this "crazy fantasy" was evidently too silly and ridiculous to have any entertainment value for them, and several expressed the opinion that the whole series was becoming stale.'

In some respects the scripting of the story is a bit sloppy. Vicki obtains a glass of water from the TARDIS's food machine at the start of the first episode only because the script requires her to drop and break the glass, and disregarding the fact that in Inside the Spaceship the food machine dispensed water in plastic bags. The Moroks' museum is flooded with a supposedly paralysing gas and yet Barbara and the Xeron named Dako manage to make their way to the exit and stop coughing and wheezing the moment they get outside. Some of the Morok guns appear simply to stun while others apparently cause pain and kill. Vicki manages to reprogram the computer guarding the armoury to accept incorrect but truthful answers to a series of predetermined questions, and yet only two of the questions are asked. Finally, with the Moroks defeated, the Xerons dismantle their museum in what appears to be a matter of hours, making a nonsense of the travellers' earlier comments to the effect that it was the biggest museum they had been in, not to mention the fact that they had managed to get lost in its multitude of corridors.

Once these flaws are considered alongside the story's good points (the first episode in particular), the viewer's overall reaction to The Space Museum has to be one of disappointment. Things do look up right at the very end, however, as Mount explained: 'The real killer to end this enjoyable, albeit unexceptional, serial occurred in the final sequence. The TARDIS was on its way, and on the far-distant world of Skaro, an all-too-familiar shape glided over to a wall console... The return of the Daleks was just one week away.'

< The CrusadeFirst DoctorThe Chase >

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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