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The Time Warrior

Production Code: UUU

First Transmitted

1 - 15/12/1973 17:10

2 - 22/12/1973 17:45

3 - 29/12/1973 17:10

4 - 05/01/1974 17:30

Plot

Journalist Sarah Jane Smith is impersonating her aunt, virologist Lavinia Smith, in order to gain access to a research centre where top scientists are being held in protective custody while UNIT investigates the disappearance of a number of their colleagues. The missing scientists have been kidnapped by a Sontaran, Linx, and taken back to medieval England, where they are working under hypnosis to repair his crashed spaceship.

The Doctor follows in the TARDIS, and Sarah stows away. In return for shelter, Linx has provided a robber baron called Irongron with anachronistically advanced weapons to use in attacks on neighbouring castles.

The Doctor helps Sir Edward of Wessex to repel one such attack, then he and Sarah conspire to drug the food in Irongron's kitchens so that the weapons can be removed while the men are unconscious. Aided by one of the kidnapped scientists, Rubeish, he then sends the others back to the 20th Century using Linx's primitive time travel equipment.

Linx shoots Irongron down and gets ready to leave in his repaired ship. Hal, one of Sir Edward's archers, fires an arrow into the vulnerable probic vent at the back of his neck, killing him. The Doctor, Sarah and Hal escape just before the ship explodes, destroying the castle.

Episode Endings

As the Doctor watches from hiding, Linx removes his helmet and reveals the monstrous features beneath.

The Doctor fights off Irongron and his men in the castle courtyard. He falls to the ground and Irongron, declaring 'He who strikes Irongron dies!', raises an axe to kill him.

The Doctor attempts to bargain with Linx, offering to help repair his spaceship in return for being allowed to dehypnotise the scientists and send them back to the 20th Century. Linx gives his answer: he raises his weapon and fires it at the Doctor.

The TARDIS dematerialises before the astonished gaze of Hal.

Roots

A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court.

Robin Hood.

Star Trek (A Piece of the Action).

This Island Earth.

Dialogue Triumphs

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : "Speaking of the assembled scientists." [Most of their work's so secret, they don't know what they're doing themselves.]

The Doctor : "A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting."

Sarah Jane Smith : "You're talking as if you weren't human."

The Doctor : "Yes, well, the definition of the word "humanity" is always a rather complex question, isn't it?"

Sarah Jane Smith : "You're serious, aren't you?"

The Doctor : "About what I do, yes. Not necessarily about the way I do it."

Irongron : "I'll chop him up so fine not even a sparrow will fill its beak."

Bloodaxe : "Yours is indeed a towering intelligence."

Irongron : [The Doctor is described as] A longshanked rascal with a mighty nose!

Double Entendre

Irongron : "She'll not get far before one of my guards grabs her taille!"

Continuity

Linx is a Commander of the Fifth Army Space Fleet of the Sontaran Army Space Corps, whose flag is white with a tiny 'S'. His muscles are designed for load bearing rather than leverage, so he can be easily tied up. He 'weighs several tons on his own planet', which has a surface gravity many times that of Earth. He has three fingers.

Sontarans can be harmed by attacks on their probic vent on the back of the neck. At their military academy a million cadets are hatched at each muster parade. Linx carries a weapon that can strike, burn, stun, control humans and make captives speak.

The Time Lords are keen to stamp out unlicensed time travel. Sarah has heard of UNIT. The Doctor would like to study under Rembrandt, since he's not that much of an artist. [Despite his memory loss,] the Doctor has met the Sontarans before [in The Two Doctors].

QV

Sontarans and Rutans

Location

Wessex, during the reign of King Richard I (1189-1199).

England in the present day [September 1972].

Links

Trivia

This story features the debut of a new opening and closing title sequence designed by Bernard Lodge and realised using a process known as 'slit scan'. The opening title sequence features for the first time the distinctive diamond-shaped logo for the series.

June Brown, now better known as Dot Cotton in EastEnders, appears as Sir Edward's wife Eleanor.

The Doctor's home planet is named as Gallifrey for the first time.

Myth

There was another actress cast before Elisabeth Sladen. (There was another companion, played by a different actress, originally intended to appear in this story. Sarah was a completely fresh character, and Sladen the first choice to play her, after the production team had second thoughts.)

Goofs

Bloodaxe has lots of horse trouble in episode one.

Irongron's gun goes off before he fires it, and surely he would notice that his Robot has a fleshy neck?

Nobody tells the serving wenches to leave the exploding castle.

'Wessex' after the Norman conquest is an anachronism.

Potatoes were unknown in England until Sir Francis Drake brought them back from the Americas in the 16th Century.

Fashion Victim

Sarah's brown cord flares.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Jon Pertwee

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney

Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen

Bloodaxe - John J Carney

Edward of Wessex - Alan Rowe

Eleanor - June Brown

Eric - Gordon Pitt

Hal - Jeremy Bulloch

Irongron - David Daker

Linx - Kevin Lindsay

Meg - Sheila Fay

Professor Rubeish - Donald Pelmear

Sentry - Steve Brunswick

Crew

Director - Alan Bromly

Assistant Floor Manager - Rosemary Webb

Costumes - James Acheson

Designer - Keith Cheetham

Fight Arranger - Marc Boyle

Fight Arranger - Terry Walsh

Film Cameraman - Max Samett

Film Editor - William Symon

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Sandra Exelby

Producer - Barry Letts

Production Assistant - Marcia Wheeler

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Mike Jefferies

Studio Sound - Tony Millier

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

Visual Effects - Jim Ward

Visual Effects - Peter Pegrum

Writer - Robert Holmes

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'That narrow hipped vixen!' The script is one of Robert Holmes' funniest. With David Daker and John J. Carney's OTT performances, and Elisabeth Sladen's instant presence, the result is a rather wonderful romp.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Time Warrior, like the similarly titled The Time Monster from season nine, is another of the relatively small number of stories falling into the pseudo-historical category - in other words, mixing a period setting with overt science-fiction elements. Writer Robert Holmes apparently took some persuading to adopt this approach, having disliked the series' early historical stories, and this may perhaps explain why the scripts are not amongst his best for the series.

The idea of all Britain's leading scientists being gathered together and placed in protective custody by UNIT is somewhat absurd, and the scientist characters are also very cliched and unbelievable. The medieval setting in which much of the action takes place is welcome in principle but doesn't work too well in practice, owing mainly to a lack of convincing period atmosphere - a failing for which director Alan Bromly, with his rather uninspired handling of the proceedings, can arguably be held as much responsible as Holmes.

Where this section of the story does win out however is in its wonderful dialogue - one sometimes suspects that Holmes couldn't have written a bad line of dialogue if he had tried - and, as Steven Grace observed in Star Begotten Vol. 3 No. 1/2, dated June 1989, in its superior characterisation:

'Even the most minor characters, such as Meg the maid, benefit from having a life of their own and [having been] created with a credible background in mind, [and] I should like to... claim that Linx and Irongron are the finest of [the writer's] legendary double acts...

'During the whole story some fine parallels are drawn between Irongron and Linx; from the moment that each is introduced we are presented with the perfect match of the two boastful warriors equal in their great arrogance. In the very first scene..., as Linx's ship comes crashing down on the wood outside the castle, Irongron immediately claims the apparent "falling star" for himself - "Irongron's star"... Similarly, Linx claims Earth [for the Sontaran empire] with no fear of the band (or should that read "rabble") of "knights" surrounding him.'

Irongron and his loyal but simple henchman Bloodaxe, well portrayed by David Daker and John J Carney respectively, also work well together. The story's best feature however is undoubtedly Linx the Sontaran, an inspired and memorable creation with a very striking design, complete with 'potato head' mask, excellently brought to life by actor Kevin Lindsay.

The other particularly notable aspect of The Time Warrior is that it introduces Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, now widely considered the best of all the Doctor's travelling companions. Her potential as a character is apparent right from the outset, as Keith Miller observed in DWFC Monthly Number 19, dated January 1974: 'I found Sarah Jane Smith very promising as the Doctor's new assistant. Her acting was very good, showing she has a mind of her own... [Her] reluctance to admit she had been transported back in time was well handled.' These sentiments were echoed by John Peel when he reviewed the story in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1987:

'Given the brief that she was into women's lib, Holmes made the most of the humour in the situation. In a medieval cloakroom, [Sarah] complains about a serving woman's attitudes. "You're living in the middle ages!" she yells, before realising what a stupid comment this is. Holmes gently poked fun at the libbers' concepts, whilst endorsing them at the same time. Sarah is given plenty to do, and demonstrates her bravery and versatility throughout the tale. "There's always something you can do," she tells Sir Edward, "it is just a matter of working out what."

'Elisabeth Sladen was absolutely wonderful in her first serial. She made Sarah aggressive ("Get lost!"), wistful ("I could just murder a cup of tea...") and cute as well. She had an infectious smile and an air of conviction about what she did... She was courageous and charming, clever and annoying - all at once.'

The story as a whole was well received by contemporary viewers, judging from the BBC's Audience Research Report on Part Four: 'The majority... evidently found this episode up to the accepted standard of Doctor Who adventures, making good entertainment at least for their children and very often for themselves as well. ("Can be really enjoyed whatever age you are.") It was a very good ending, they often said, to a story which "worked up to a good climax" with "lots of excitement". There was some minority feeling, however, that this was "not one of the best Doctor Who episodes" and that it was too far-fetched ("the miraculous escapes of Doctor Who from impossible situations strain credulity to the limit"), "corny" and "cliche ridden"; or "slapstick rather than the science-fiction we have come to expect".'

Keith Miller was another admirer of the story's climax: 'The last fifteen minutes were great, where Linx was shot [in] the back of his neck, the Doctor... [escaped] by that fantastic swing from the balcony to the door, and lastly... Irongron's castle [exploded].'

It is perhaps a pity that The Time Warrior was not a mid-season story as, although it makes for enjoyable viewing, it lacks the sort of impact ideally needed to launch a new run of adventures. Peel summed up things well when he wrote: 'In the end, The Time Warrior will really be best recalled as Sarah's first story and the first appearance of a Sontaran. As far as that goes, it achieves its aims. It is by no means a bad story - simply a simple one. The action is there to join the quips together, and to prevent the children from falling asleep. The Doctor is there because it's his show, after all. As for the rest - well, it's lightweight fun, and never pretends to be anything else.'

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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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