The Fourth Dimension

The Time Meddler


This is the first occasion where we see the Doctor meet someone else from his own world, other than Susan, of course. But apart from acknowledging their common origins, we discover surprisingly little and it won’t be until the very end of the Second Doctor’s era that we are actually given a name for the Doctor’s people.


Like the Doctor, the Monk has a TARDIS which he presumably also stole. Unlike the Doctor’s, the Monk’s ship still has the ability to blend in with its surroundings wherever it lands. Here it is a sarcophagus. The interior of the ship is similar to the Doctor’s but the console is raised up on a dais. The Monk’s vessel is identified as a ‘Mark IV’.


Although we have previously seen the Doctor and his companions have several adventures in Earth’s past, The Time Meddler is the first that can be considered to be what is now called a pseudo-historical. In other words, a story set in history which involves aliens or time travellers other than the TARDIS crew.


William Hartnell took another break from the series during the making of the second episode of this story. His absence is explained by having the Doctor locked up for the duration by the Monk with a pre-recorded voice-over.


The Monk is here to change history by ensuring that King Harold wins the Battle of Hastings. But this isn’t the first time that the Monk has meddled. We find out that he assisted with the construction of Stonehenge by providing an anti-gravitational lift and suggested ideas about flight to Leonardo da Vinci.


The Time Meddler takes place in the late Summer of 1066. The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14th October that year with Duke William II of Normandy defeating King Harold II. Harold’s army of soldiers were tired and depleted from their successful efforts to repel Norwegian leader, Hadrada’s Viking forces in the north of England. Had Harold’s army been not quite so exhausted, he may well have been successful in repelling Duke William’s assault. By keeping the Viking ships away with an atomic cannon, this is precisely what the Monk hopes to achieve.


Peter Butterworth was already a well-established actor at the time that he was offered the role of the Monk in The Time Meddler. Almost immediately after this he would begin his long association with the Carry On series of comedy films, starting with Carry on Cowboy. Butterworth enjoyed the part of the Monk, got on well with William Hartnell and impressed the production team. As a result, both he and the character would return in The Daleks’ Master Plan.


To illustrate the arrival of the Viking invaders, film footage of a Viking ship was inserted into the story. As there weren’t many film cameras around in 1066, this was clearly not the genuine article. It was, in fact, built for the re-enactment of the first crossing of the North sea undertaken by some adventurous Danes and was taken from a 1949 BBC newsreel.


Vicki explains to Steven that TARDIS stands for ‘Time and Relative Dimensions in Space’. This is the first time that ‘Dimension’ became ‘Dimensions’.


The Time Meddler was released on DVD in 2008. All four episodes were restored and remastered and the DVD also included a commentary by producer Verity Lambert, actor Peter Purves (Steven), story editor Donald Tosh, and designer Barry Newbery.

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