Production Code: 5A
1 - 02/09/1978 17:45
2 - 09/09/1978 18:20
3 - 16/09/1978 18:30
4 - 23/09/1978 18:20
The White Guardian gives the Doctor a quest to find the six disguised segments of the Key to Time which, when assembled, will be used to restore the balance of the cosmos. To aid him he is given a new companion, a female Time Lord called Romana, and a tracer device.
He tracks the first segment to the city of Shur on the planet Ribos. There con men Garron and Unstoffe are engaged in a scam to sell the entire planet to the Graff Vynda-K, deposed ruler of Levithia. The Graff has been tricked into believing that Ribos is a rich source of jethrik, a rare mineral vital for achieving space warp drive.
His interest is further piqued when he sees a large lump of the mineral on display in a reliquary. The Doctor realises that this is actually the first segment but, before he can steal it, Unstoffe spirits it away.
The Graff, having discovered the trick that has been played on him, hunts the con men down and captures them, along with the time travellers, in the catacombs beneath the city. He is on the point of having them executed when Riban guards blow up the entrance to the catacombs.
The death of his loyal officer Sholakh in the ensuing rock fall unhinges the Graff's mind. He storms into the dust and is killed by a thermite bomb with which he had intended to destroy the catacombs.
The Doctor, Romana and K9 depart with the jethrik, leaving Garron and Unstoffe to make off with the Graff's ship of plundered loot.
The Doctor and Romana are investigating the reliquary, the vicious Shrivenzale creature left on guard having been fed drugged meat by Unstoffe. The exit door suddenly starts to slide shut, threatening to trap them inside, and the Doctor quickly comes to Romana's aid in trying to halt its descent. Beyond the door, the Shrivenzale, its jaws soaked in blood, starts to stir...
The Doctor, Romana and Garron are confronted by the Graff Vynda-K and his men. The Graff, asserting that no one makes a fool of him and lives, orders that they be executed. Sholakh tells the guards to take aim and prepare to fire...
The Doctor, Romana, Garron and K9 hide in the catacombs as the Graff and his men search for them. The Doctor inadvertently disturbs a skull with his foot, and it clatters to the ground, giving them away. The Graff is triumphant.
At the Doctor's invitation, Romana touches the tracer to the lump of jethrik, which is transformed into the first segment. 'Simple, wasn't it?' suggests the Doctor dryly. 'Only five more to go.'
Cymbeline (lodging the loot in a safe place overnight).
Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible (design).
Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.
Galileo's persecution by the Catholic Church (Binro).
The Italian Job.
Star Trek's Harry Mudd.
The Doctor : "Look, I'm sure there must be plenty of other Time Lords who'd be delighted..."
The Guardian : "I have chosen you, Doctor."
The Doctor : "I was afraid you might say that. Ah! You want me to volunteer, is that it? And if I don't?"
The Guardian : "Nothing."
The Doctor : "You mean nothing'll happen to me?"
The Guardian : "Nothing. Ever."
The Doctor : "I'll call you Romana."
Romana : "I don't like Romana."
The Doctor : "It's either Romana or Fred."
Romana : "All right, call me Fred."
Binro : "Have you ever looked up at the sky at night and seen those little lights? They are not ice crystals! I believe they are suns just like our own sun, and perhaps each sun has other worlds of its own, just as Ribos is a world... I have made measurements of those little lights, and of our own sun, and I can prove that Ribos moves; it circles the sun, travelling far away and returning..."
Unstoffe : [On 'scringe stone'] "You hangs a bit of that around your neck and you won't never suffer from the scringes no matter 'ow cold it be!"
The White Guardian says he has chosen the Doctor to reassemble the Key to Time, a perfect cube which maintains the equilibrium of time itself. Six segments are scattered and hidden. When assembled they create a power 'which is too dangerous for any one being to possess'. The forces in the universe have 'upset the balance' to such an extent it is necessary to 'stop everything' until the balance is restored, or else the universe will be plunged into eternal chaos. The Guardian also warns the Doctor about the Black Guardian (see The Armageddon Factor).
The Guardian appears as the Lord President to the Doctor's new assistant, Romanadvoratreludar. She has recently graduated from the Academy with a 'Triple first', and states the Doctor scraped through with 51 per cent at the second attempt. It is implied she has not finished her education, threatening to use the Doctor as a case study in her thesis. Her age is given as nearly 140. The Doctor and K9 are en-route to Halergan 3, a holiday planet.
Cyrrhenis Minima has the Space co-ordinates 4180 and is 116 parsecs from Ribos (co ordinates 4940). Ribos is three 'light centuries' from the Magellanic Cloud, and orbits its sun [very] elliptically, making its two seasons ('Sun Time' and 'Ice Time') 32 Levithian years long. Its principal city is Shur, although there are other settlements to the north.
The tyrant Graff Vynda-K was deposed from the Levithian throne by his half brother while away fighting with the Cyrrhenic Empire. The Graff mentions three of his battles, Skaar, the Freytus Labyrinth and Crestus Minor. Garron claims to have sold Mirabilis Minor to three different clients. Garron wants ten million [Levithian?] Opeks for the planet from the Graff [Ribos also uses Opeks as its currency.]
Jethryk is a valuable rare element without which space warp 'would be impossible'.
Ribos, in the constellation of Skytha, [the future].
The Doctor says he was trained in sleight of hand by Mescalin.
There are fine performances from the guest cast, including Timothy Bateson as Binro the Heretic and Iain Cuthbertson, particularly well known for his role as Charlie Endell in LWT's Budgie and its follow up series Charles Endell Esquire, as Garron. Nigel Plaskitt, seen here as Unstoffe, was better known for playing a young man named Malcolm in a series of television commercials for Vic's Sinex nasal spray.
How can the coordinates of the segment change while the TARDIS is in the vortex (i.e. outside space and time)?
Why do the trained soldiers stop when the Doctor tells them rather than obey the Graff's orders?
How can the Doctor walk out of the catacombs after they have been sealed?
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Tom Baker
Romana - Mary Tamm
Voice of K9 - John Leeson
Binro - Timothy Bateson
Captain - Prentis Hancock
Garron - Iain Cuthbertson
Graff Vynda-K - Paul Seed
John - John Hamill
Sholakh - Robert Keegan
Shrieve - Oliver Maguire
The Guardian - Cyril Luckham
The Seeker - Ann Tirard
Unstoffe - Nigel Plaskitt
Director - George Spenton-Foster