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The Fourth Dimension

Pyramids of Mars


This story marks the last appearance of the traditional TARDIS console room until it is reintroduced in The Invisible Enemy in 1977. A new, wooden walled room and smaller console would take its place for the following season.


The Doctor tells Sutekh that his home planet is called Gallifrey, a fact we previously learnt in 1974’s The Time Warrior. Here the Doctor adds that the planet is in the constellation of Kasterborous and gives its coordinates as 10-0-11-0-0 by 02 from galactic zero centre.


At the story’s opening, the TARDIS is on its way back to UNIT HQ when it is knocked off course causing it to land in the right place but the wrong time. It is 1911 and Marcus Scarman’s priory is on the same site as the future UNIT building. Sarah recalls that the priory was burnt to the ground, little realising that she and the Doctor will cause the fire…


In the 2010 Sarah Jane Adventures story, The Vault of Secrets, it looks very much like Sarah prevents the discovery of the Osiran pyramid on Mars by interfering with a NASA mission.


Sarah questions the Doctor’s determination to oppose Sutekh and points out that they know he doesn’t win because they have seen the future where the world hasn’t been destroyed by the Osiran. The Doctor takes Sarah on a trip in the TARDIS to her own time where the world is a barren, wind-swept wasteland. Unless they defeat Sutekh, Sarah’s future will never exist.


The location filming for the story took place at Stargroves, a large property once owned by Lord Carnarvon who funded Howard Carter’s trip to Egypt to find Tutankhamen. At the time that Pyramids of Mars was made, the house was owned by lead singer of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger.


Sutekh is one of the most powerful entities that the Doctor has faced, with the Doctor confessing that even the Time Lords would be hard pushed to defeat him. As an indication of Sutekh’s power, Sarah sees a mental projection of his face inside the TARDIS. This is the first time that we have seen anything able to penetrate the TARDIS’s defences.


Sutekh, Horus and Osiris are all the names of gods from Egyptian mythology. As the Doctor points out in the story, Sutekh is also known as Set as well as several other names.


In the final episode of this adventure, we see the first use of the Time Lord’s respiratory bypass system which enables the Doctor to stop breathing for an extended period of time. Here the Doctor is able to convince Sutekh that he has been killed when a mummy robot strangles him. We’ll see this handy gift used again in The Robots of Death.


All four episodes of this story have been restored and remastered and are available on DVD. The story is accompanied by a commentary from actors Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah), Michael Sheard (Laurence Scarman), producer Philip Hinchcliffe, and director Paddy Russell. Also included on the disc are some deleted and extended scenes; the documentary Osirian Gothic which goes behind the scenes of the making of the serial; Serial Thrillers, a documentary that takes a look at the era of Doctor Who produced by Philip Hinchcliffe; and Now and Then which compares the locations used for the story with how they looked at the time and as they do now.

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