Doctor Who (1963)

Season 14 Episode 9

The Deadly Assassin, Part One

Aired Saturday 5:15 PM Oct 30, 1976 on BBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Deadly Assassin, Part One
Gallifrey, planet of the Time Lords. Summoned home by a premonition of murder, the Doctor discovers a dark conspiracy at the highest levels of Time Lord society... and his oldest enemy, who poses a threat to the existence of Gallifrey itself...

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  • The Doctor lands back on Gallifrey.

    An interesting start for one of the best episodes from Tom Baker era and one of the best from the series.

    The Doctor goes back to his roots landing Tardis on Gallifrey. For whatever reason, the Doctor has a vision where he is shooting down one of the Timelords.

    The Doctor suspects that he is seeing is a fraud. He tries to find out what it is. This episode is pretty interesting to see how the other Time lords act toward the Doctor.

    The crowning of a new President seems like something taken out of real life politics. I wouldn't be surprised if this was inspired by a real life political murder.

    We see a couple of the trademark comedy bits that Tom used as the Doctor as he tries to blend into the whole scene by stealing clothes and using his wits to find out who really is the Deadly Assassin.moreless
  • Dark, uncharacteristic and good

    (This is a review of all four episodes of The Deadly Assassin)

    The Deadly Assassin is an untypical episode of Doctor Who but also a very important one. As well as being one of the few times the Doctor travels without a companion, much of the mythology of the show was changed, or introduced, in these episodes. It is hear we first learn that the Doctor, like all Time Lords, only has thirteen lives. It is also the first time we get a detailed, proper look at the Doctor's home world, Gallifrey.

    In The Deadly Assassin the Master begins a brief but interesting phase of his career as the Doctor' arch enemy. Since we last saw him, he has become but a crippled shard of his former self. His face is twisted and contorted and he is at the end of all his life cycles. This adds a touch of gothic morbidity to his character and adds to the dark mood of the episodes.

    The Deadly Assassin works well as a thriller and is also one of the few times we get to see our titular character engage in physical combat. For this reason it may not be everyone's favorite storyline, but it is nevertheless regarded as a classic among Who fans.

Llewellyn Rees

Llewellyn Rees

The President

Guest Star

Peter Pratt

Peter Pratt

The Master

Guest Star

Derek Seaton

Derek Seaton

Commander Hilred

Guest Star

Bernard Horsfall

Bernard Horsfall

Chancellor Goth

Recurring Role

George Pravda

George Pravda

Castellan Spandrell

Recurring Role

Angus MacKay

Angus MacKay

Cardinal Borusa

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Other Mistake: When the first guard is shot, he starts falling slightly before the shot hits him.

    • Other Mistake: When the Doctor is slipping out of the TARDIS, the guard on the right turns to look at the door, then hastily turns away to avoid seeing the Doctor.

    • We find out in this episode that the TARDIS is a Type 40 time machine, the only one left registered out of 305 originally built and registered.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Goth [ regarding the Doctor's actions ]: But this note? Why warn us in advance?
      Spandrell: Perhaps to get us nervous, or just looking the wrong way. Prydonians are notoriously-
      Goth: Devious? Not true, Castellan. We simply see a little further then most.

    • Hilred: We have him trapped in the Communications Tower.
      Spandrell: Well done, Hilred. An antiquated capsule, for which you get adequate early warning, transducts on the very steps of the Capital. You are warned that the occupant is a known criminal, therefore you allow him to escape and conceal himself in a building a mere 53 stories high. A clever stratagem, Hildred. You're trying to confuse him, I take it?
      Hilred: I apologize, Castellan, He won't escape again.
      Spandrell: In light of your impressive record so far, I would make no rash commitments.

    • The Doctor: Oh no, it's Runcible! Runcible the Fatuous.

    • Runcible: Have you had a face lift?
      The Doctor: Several so far.

    • The Master: The Doctor is never more dangerous then when the odds are against him.

    • The Doctor: [narrating] Through the millennia, the Time Lords of Gallifrey led a life of ordered calm, protected against all threats from lesser civilizations by their great power. But this was to change. Suddenly and terribly, the Time Lords faced the most dangerous crisis in their long history...

  • NOTES (10)

    • DVD: Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin (BBCDVD 2430) released in May 2009.

      Video: Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin (BBCV 4645) released in October 1991. Released (in omnibus format) in U.S.A./Canada (Warner Home Video E1161) in March 1989.

    • Novelisation: Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin by Terrance Dicks (ISBN 0 426 11965 7) first published by Wyndham Publications in 1977.

    • This episode marks the first appearance of the politically-motivated Time Lord Borusa. He will next appear in The Invasion of Time, and continue to complicate The Doctor's life in Arc of Infinity and The Five Doctors. In every story he will be played by a different actor.

    • Working title: The Dangerous Assassin

    • With the exception of the computer voice in episode four, there are no women in this serial.

    • Bernard Horsfall, who plays Chancellor Goth, also played a Time Lord in The War Games - the assumption is he is playing the same character in both episodes.

    • The Doctor signs his note with a circular symbol: this was originally created by designer Roger Murray-Leach for the Vogans in Revenge of the Cybermen. The symbol then became associated with Gallifrey and appeared on clothing and walls in subsequent episodes: the BBC later trademarked it.

    • For the only time in the series, the episode starts with a rolling caption and a voiceover narration by the Doctor.

    • Peter Pratt plays the now-hideously disfigured Master, the character's first appearance since Roger Delgado's death after making Season 10's Frontier in Space.

      Goth says that he found the Master "on the planet Tersurus... he was dying." The story of how the Master got into this condition is revealed in the original Eighth Doctor novel Legacy of the Daleks.

    • Actor Tom Baker had long argued that he alone could carry the series and a companion wasn't required. This story, the only one in which the Doctor is unaccompanied, was partly intended to show why a companion was necessary. However, The Deadly Assassin is now regarded as one of the series' creative triumphs!


    • Resignation Honours List: The Time Lord President is asked about his "resignation honours list" and says that it contains surprising names. This is a reference to the highly controversial resignation honours list of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, given shortly before this serial was made.