Production Code: D
The Roof of the World - 22/02/1964 17:15
The Singing Sands - 29/02/1964 17:15
Five Hundred Eyes - 07/03/1964 17:15
The Wall of Lies - 14/03/1964 17:15
Rider from Shang Tu - 21/03/1964 17:15
Mighty Kublai Khan - 28/03/1964 17:30
Assassin at Peking - 04/04/1964 17:30
Arriving in Central Asia in 1289, the Doctor and his companions join the caravan of the famous Venetian explorer Marco Polo as it makes its way from the snowy heights of the Pamir Plateau, across the treacherous Gobi Desert and through the heart of imperial Cathay.
Having witnessed many incredible sights and survived a variety of dangers, they eventually arrive at the mighty Kublai Khan's Summer Palace in Shang-tu, where the Doctor strikes up an extraordinary friendship with the now-aged ruler.
They move on at last to the even more sumptuous Imperial Palace in Peking, where the travellers manage to save the Khan from an assassination attempt by the Mongol warlord Tegana - supposedly on a peace mission - before departing once more in the TARDIS.
Tegana acquires from a Mongol subordinate a phial of poison with which he aims to poison Marco Polo's water gourds as his caravan crosses the Gobi desert. He confides that when everyone is dead he intends to return to the caravan and collect the TARDIS - 'the thing of magic that will bring the mighty Kublai Khan to his knees!'
Tegana arrives at a desert oasis and gleefully pours water onto the sand: 'Here's water, Marco Polo. Come for it!'
The Doctor, Susan and Ping-Cho (a young girl travelling with Marco Polo) enter the Cave of Five Hundred Eyes searching for Barbara. Suddenly Susan screams, pointing at one of the faces carved on the wall. Its eyes moved!
Having cut his way through the tent in which he and his fellow travellers have been held prisoner, Ian emerges into the clearing in the bamboo forest. The guard offers less resistance than expected - as Ian touches him, he keels over, a knife protruding from his torso.
Susan crosses from the Cheng-Ting way station to the stables, where her friends are waiting for her in the TARDIS, ready to make good their escape. As she rushes toward the ship, Tegana appears from the shadows and seizes her about the neck.
Ian holds the bandit Kuiju at knife-point, allowing Ping-Cho to retrieve her money. Kuiju reluctantly admits that it was Tegana who paid him to steal it. Suddenly Tegana arrives. He beckons to Ian, cutting the air with his sword.
As Marco Polo wonders where the time travellers are now, an image of the TARDIS console is seen superimposed against a starscape.
Marco Polo's Travels.
John Lucarotti's Canadian TV series about Polo.
Tegana : "Hear me, Mongols. In these parts live evil spirits who take our likeness to deceive us and then lead us to our deaths. Let us therefore destroy these evil spirits before they destroy us!"
Susan Foreman : "One day, we'll know all the secrets of the skies, and we'll stop our wanderings."
The Doctor : [Mimicking Wang-lo's comment about the TARDIS.] ""I couldn't place it in the hanging-garden, now could I?" What does he think it is? A potting shed, or something?'"
Marco Polo : "On my travels to Cathay, Ian, I have come to believe many things I'd previously doubted. For instance, when I was a boy in Venice they told me that in Cathay there was a stone that burned. I did not believe, but there is such a stone - I have seen it... And if stone burns, why not a caravan that flies? Birds fly; I have even seen fish that fly. You are asking me to believe that your caravan can defy the passage of the sun? Move not merely from one place to another, but from today into tomorrow, today to yesterday? No Ian, that I cannot believe."
[How Tegana should kill the Doctor] "With a stake through the heart."
Khan : [Explains to Ping-Cho] "Your beloved husband to be, so anxious to be worthy of your love, drank a potion of quicksilver and sulphur, the elixir of life and eternal youth. And expired."
One burnt-out circuit in the TARDIS deactivates the lights, water supply and heating. Condensation forms in the interior as it would inside any box in a hot climate [the broken circuit also stopped exterior temperatures affecting the interior]. The Doctor couldn't create another TARDIS (at least, not with the resources of thirteenth century Venice).
The Doctor can play backgammon well, but loses his bet with Kublai Khan over the TARDIS. He can horse ride, but has back trouble as a result. He also has problems with high altitudes and lack of water, and likes bean sprout soup.
Barbara knows lots of Buddhist history. Ian can ride, sword fight, isn't very good at Chess and knows lots of 'O' level science things, plus the fact that bamboo bangs in fire [he might have travelled abroad, probably on his National Service: see The Web Planet]. Susan uses words like 'fab' and is surprised by the idea of arranged marriages. She's had 'many homes in many places'.
Polo says that he's seen Buddhist monks levitate cups of wine to Kublai Khan's mouth [K'Anpo?].
the Plain of Pamir.
The Gobi desert.
A bamboo forest.
The Summer Palace at Shang Tu and Peking.
Over at least 30 days (probably a lot more) in Summer 1289.
Susan has seen the metal seas of Venus.
The horses of the Mongol bearers are the first live animals used in Doctor Who.
An animated map is used to illustrate the progress of the journey, accompanied by voice-over diary entries by Marco Polo.
Kuiju, the mercenary bandit with the pet monkey, is never referred to by name in the story's dialogue; his name is given only in the closing credits.
Although not on holiday as such, William Hartnell had only one line of dialogue in The Singing Sands.
The Doctor acquires from Kublai Khan a wooden walking stick which he is then seen to use in several subsequent stories. Its distinctive design includes a spiral section on the stem, with a small carved figure of a monkey climbing up it.
The caption slide at the end of episode two reads: 'Next Episode: The Cave of Five Hundred Eyes'.
In episode seven, Kublai Khan refers to backgammon as a game of cards.
Where are Niccolo and Maffeo Polo (Marco's father and uncle who travelled with him?).
The use of Peking is anachronistic (it should be Khan-balik).
In 1289, Polo was anxious to leave China against Kublai's wishes, so what's he doing on the Pamir Plateau?
William Hartnell has an odd hysterical fit in episode one, laughing his head off for a full minute at all the troubles that have befallen the travellers.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - William Hartnell
Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill
Ian Chesterton - William Russell
Susan Foreman - Carole Ann Ford
Acomat - Philip Voss
Chenchu - Jimmy Gardner
Empress - Claire Davenport
Kublai Khan - Martin Miller
Kuiju - Tutte Lemkow
Ling-Tau - Paul Carson
Malik - Charles Wade
Man at Lop - Leslie Bates
Marco Polo - Mark Eden
Mongol bandit - Michael Guest
Office Foreman - Basil Tang Also in Assassin at Peking but uncredited
Ping-Cho - Zienia Merton
Tegana - Derren Nesbitt
Vizier - Peter Lawrence
Wang-lo - Gabor Baraker
Director - Waris Hussein 1-3, 5-7