Launching the show's fourth season in style, The Smugglers was the first Doctor Who story to feature a significant amount of location filming outside London.
Director Julia Smith, later to find fame as co-creator of Eastenders, was not content to shoot in a quarry either. Instead, she took her crew to west Cornwall for a full week to shoot footage at Sennen, Porthcurno, Helston, Breage church, Ruan Minor church and Church Cove, Gunwalloe.
Perhaps not a fan of cream teas and Cornish pasties, William Hartnell remained behind in London. For long shots requiring the Doctor, body double Gordon Craig stepped in.
During filming on this serial, Hartnell reportedly made the decision to leave the programme. After completing episode two, William Hartnell returned home to inform his wife Heather that he had agreed to relinquish the title role.
The actor's health had been getting steadily worse, and this was affecting his ability to act. This in turn had made things difficult on set. His following story, The Tenth Planet, would be his last.
Scripting duties fell to writer Brian Hayles, who had written memorable story The Celestial Toymaker for season three. Hayles would go on to achieve considerable cool in the world of Doctor Who by creating The Ice Warriors. Hayles' other submitted pitch, The Nazis, was rejected by the production team. Don't mention the war...
A small amount of silent colour film exists of the making of The Smugglers, taken by the owner of one of the locations. Some of this can be seen on unofficial DVD and VHS release The Doctors.
When the series was sold to Australia, the censors took objection to certain scenes, which were snipped from the BBC film prints of the episodes prior to transmission. In October 1996, however, the following missing footage was located and returned to the BBC:
- Episode 1 - Cherub killing Longfoot in the crypt.
- Episode 3 - Jamaica talking to Pike prior to killing him.
- Episode 3 - Pike stabbing Jamaica to death and wiping his blade.
- Episode 3 - Kewper is shot in the back, whilst Polly screams.
- Episode 4 - Pike withdrawing his blade from Cherub.
Don't get too excited, it barely adds up to a minute.
Joining the regular cast was John Ringham, who memorably played high priest of sacrifice Tlotoxl in season one's The Aztecs.
Fight arranger Derek Ware cameos as Spaniard. A stuntman and fight co-ordinator since 1960, Ware's web site lists him as an expert in, 'technique with the Falchion, Single Dagger, and Staff Fighting as taught by the German Master Hans Lebkommer in the sixteenth century.' He also played tramp Pigbin Josh in The Claws of Axos, so add 'riding a bike into an icy pond' to that list.
The full soundtrack to the story was released on CD in 2002 by the BBC Radio Collection, with linking narration by Anneke Wills.