The Fourth Dimension

The Mind Robber


Frazer Hines caught chickenpox after the making of Episode 1 and had to take a week off. Hines’ absence was cleverly explained by having the Doctor accidentally choosing the wrong face for Jamie when assembling a puzzle. So, for Episode 2 and part of Episode 3, Jamie has a different face and was played by Hamish Wilson.


The snakes on the Medusa, seen at the climax of Episode 3, were brought to life by stop-motion animation. This was the first time the process had been used on Doctor Who.


Problems with the previous story, The Dominators, saw it being shortened from six episodes to five. This left a spare episode to be filled elsewhere. The solution was for script editor Derrick Sherwin to write a brand new episode which would act as a prologue to the next story. With virtually no budget, just the three regular cast members and the TARDIS set, Sherwin wrote what is now Episode 1 of The Mind Robber but received no on-screen credit.


The unicorn that charges the Doctor and Zoe at the end of Episode 2 was played by a horse called Goldy with an artificial horn stuck to its head. Unfortunately, when it arrived for filming on an old RAF runway, it was discovered not to be the requested white colour. With no other option, the production team used army blanco to paint the horse white.


Due to lack of budget for the new Episode 1, all of the costumes had to be taken from stock. The White Robots that menace the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe (which were in fact yellow and turquoise) had previously appeared in The Prophet, an episode of the BBC’s science fiction anthology series, Out of the Unknown.


Amongst the many fictional figures that appear in The Mind Robber is Lemuel Gulliver - the main character in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Peter Ling, who wrote The Mind Robber, initially had Gulliver only speaking lines of dialogue that he spoke in the original novel. But for Episode 5, Ling wrote some new dialogue for the character in the style of Swift’s writing.


As well as Gulliver, other fictional characters in The Mind Robber include the Medusa and the Minotaur, both from mythology; Rapunzel from the German fairy tale; D’Artagnan from The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas; Sir Lancelot from Arthurian legend; Cyrano de Bergerac from the play by Edmond Rostand but actually based on a real person; Blackbeard the pirate, also actually a real historical figure but the inspiration for many a blood-thirsty pirate in various works of fiction. The Karkas was a superhero character created for The Mind Robber and was said to be a fictional character from Zoe’s time in the future.


Author Peter Ling was the creator of the popular soap operas, Compact and Crossroads. Both of Doctor Who’s script editors at the time, Derrick Sherwin and Terrance Dicks, had written for Crossroads, and so returned the favour and invited Ling to write for Doctor Who.


All five episodes of The Mind Robber exist in the BBC archives and the story is available on DVD. As well as the five, fully restored episodes, the DVD features a commentary by actors Frazer Hines (Jamie), Wendy Padbury (Zoe), Hamish Wilson (the ‘other’ Jamie), and director David Maloney; and The Fact of Fiction: The Making of the Mind Robber.

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