The Dalek Masterplan

(also known as "The Daleks' Master Plan")
CD Audio - 5 discs

This is another story with missing episodes that have not yet been fully reconstructed in a video format for the public at large....
More details & buying options for "Lost in Time" DVD's and missing episode VHS videos

(Doctor Who Story No. 21, starring William Hartnell)
  • written by Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner
  • directed by Douglas Camfield
  • produced by John Wiles
  • music by Tristram Cary
  • 12 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Having traveled inside the Doctor's wondrous "temple", Trojan handmaiden Katarina finds herself on the jungle planet Kembel with the Doctor, Steven, and SSS agent Bret Vyon in the 41st century. In a brave move to thwart the growing Dalek Alliance's latest master plan, they make off with the vital Tarranium core, and are relentlessly pursued across space and time. But Vyon has been labeled a traitor, and soon has fellow agent Sara Kingdom and Solar System Guardian Mavic Chen joining in the chase.... Who is really pulling the strings in this interstellar game of treachery? Will the Doctor be able to find any help from a familiar face from his own planet?
1. The Nightmare Begins
2. Day of Armageddon
3. Devil's Planet
4. The Traitors
5. Counter Plot
6. Coronas of the Sun
7. The Feast of Steven
8. Volcano
9. Golden Death
10. Escape Switch
11. The Abandoned Planet
12. The Destruction of Time

The "Lost in Time" DVD's include:

  • Three complete original episodes: #2: Day of Armageddon, #5: Counter Plot, and #10: Escape Switch.
  • optional Episode 2 audio commentary by actors Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Kevin Stoney (Mavic Chen), and designer Raymond Cusick.
  • "Who's Who" text screen cast biographies (may be on Region 1 discs only)
More details & buying options for "Lost in Time" DVD's and missing episode VHS videos

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

At last, Doctor Who's ambition rises to a level worthy of a franchise of its size and importance, delivering an epic story that does true justice to the intergalactic, interdimensional scope of its regular characters. Also of no small importance is the fact that this monumental story is given to the best proven director the series has had yet, instead of letting an amateur experiment. Featuring a collaboration of writers that brings a wide range of emotional tones, relationships, and ideas together, not to mention a very notable guest cast for the most important roles, we end up with one of the biggest successes and most engaging storylines of the Hartnell era. The Daleks themselves also finally live up to the hype surrounding them, in terms of getting the operators to coordinate their movement, getting the voice performances to be serious and dramatic and threatening, and also finally giving their standard weapons fire a sound effect with some energy and power instead of the quiet little white noise that most other sci-fi stories of this era have to put up with. Dalek performances haven't been this good since their original story, and even then they were still on a bit of a learning curve. Here, they've arrived. Oh yes! Let's allow the Masterplan to unfold....

1. The Nightmare Begins - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)

Coming into this story cold for episode one, or following on from other Hartnell tales like "The Myth Makers" (the previous story), the introductory beats work fairly well to set-up the characters and situation that we'll be following for the next dozen episodes. However, seen (or heard) back to back immediately after its prologue "Mission to the Unknown" (story no. 19), as now presented on the 5-disc CD audio set, this story seems instead to be taking its time to get started, beginning with a collection of re-hashed repeat ideas with Bret Vyon and Kert Gantry frustrated by near exactly the same situation as Marc Cory and Gordon Lowery. The only difference is that this time we don't actually get any action from the Varga plants. If they came off as hammy then, this might actually be a blessing.
The action for the Doctor is also about as close to a repeat of "The Dead Planet" as you can get - TARDIS lands in wild area with lots of trees (nice visual materialization shot - thank you, director Douglas Camfield), the Doctor explores and spots a Dalek city, he gets forced back into the TARDIS for a few scenes, he goes out exploring again. However, this is a plot line that I've always particularly enjoyed, using the TARDIS as the "safe haven" home base / exploration tool from which characters can make their excursions and return to in order to regroup and rethink their next actions, and it is a most "Who-ish" safe base at that. It also means you don't have to build a separate "local" set for this purpose, and the money can go elsewhere on the production. The dialogue is not as good as previously in "The Dead Planet", however, because if Bret and the Doctor were able to have a good honest conversation, they would naturally be more cooperative and completely alter their movements within the plot.

Bringing Bret Vyon into the TARDIS was also quite a radical move at the time, as it nearly but not quite elevates him to the status of an official companion - after all if Sara Kingdom can get in, why not Bret? In light of later stories though, this might also mean including people like Albert Einstein and Tegan's grandfather, etc., and other nonsense like that, so let's not push.

Another thing to note is that even with such a massively long story, we don't have to wait until the end of the first episode before the Daleks are revealed - whether you count "Mission to the Unknown" or "The Nightmare Begins" as the true first episode. This is a plus; thank you Terry Nation! But it is then very odd that the first episode has such a weak cliffhanger. Prior to the release of the soundtrack on CD, not to mention the rediscovery of episode two on film, I couldn't claim to have any accurate idea of the episode endings for this first group of missing episodes, particularly as the endings I would have chosen would move many of the short clips into episodes other than the ones they are often labeled for. The soundtrack reveals that episode one's true structure has far less meat in it than I had anticipated, far less for the Doctor and his friends to do. The brief scene they get in the TARDIS in the beginning barely does justice to their motivations, which lie in the events of Troy. The episode thus starts a bit late, then plods along for ten minutes without the three regulars, and eventually ends too early, before a decent threat like "Operation Inferno" can even be hinted at. The fire closing in on the Doctor's party would have been my choice for the first cliffhanger, but this doesn't happen until ten minutes or so into episode two, and would throw much of the rest of the story's structure out of whack.

I have to say, the dialogue continues to be really bad in many places - the arguments are very irritating to listen to, particularly as each character sounds pretty much the same and none of them come up with points that are any more enlightened than those of the person they are shouting down. It would all be easier for the audience to listen to and understand if the characters themselves would start listening to each other. As they irritate each other, so I feel irritated watching them. Through all this, I'm reminded of story editor Donald Tosh in his interview in Doctor Who Magazine issue 191 pages 11-12, where he wanted to take credit for fleshing out the dialogue in Terry Nation's thin Dalek Masterplan scripts, after such had been praised in a review. Well, if this is the Tosh flavour, I'm not favourably impressed myself.

2. Day of Armageddon - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)

Things at last get really good again in the middle of the second episode, when the Doctor dons Zephon's cloak and joins the Alliance meeting. Bret's reactions, considering his occupation, really sell the Doctor's heroic nature here. Add to that the fact that the Doctor's actions at the meeting set the entire plot rolling for the middle eight episodes, so this moment will not be soon forgotten. Right on, Terry Nation, you've given the main character his due at last! Thank you! Add to this the fact that the entire Masterplan Alliance is in attendance, and, as I originally wrote my review for this story in 2000, this became the number one Masterplan episode that I would have most liked to see recovered next. Well, lo and behold, four years later, wishes did come true!

Finally we got to see an episode showing the Masterplan Alliance: although still a bit juvenile in design, they do manage to be quite a bit more respectable here under Camfield's direction. Malpha has grown uncharacteristically silent, as Trantis takes over as spokesman for the collection of non-Dalek alien members. Actor Roy Evans manages to do interesting things with his look, even if vocal qualities aren't a particular strength this time around.

Episode Two's cliffhanger is excellent, and early enough to leave lots of good stuff for episode three and make it far more interesting than I had previously anticipated.

3. Devil's Planet - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)

Now "The Chase" is on, again, but it is a large improvement on Terry Nation's previous Dalek adventure, mostly because our four main characters have a very specific goal in mind - sharing all the information they have gathered with the proper Earth authorities, if they can get there. Also, the spacecraft they use (Spar or SPA-7, take your pick) has a much better sense of direction than the TARDIS, so this all works in favour of setting achievable goals. The soundtrack drops the all important clues to the correct name for Chen's ship, key to which is a tendency in the British accent to seemingly pronounce r's that aren't there, or not pronounce them when they are. Partly an abbreviation for "Space Car", Roald gives the full model name as "Spar 740".

Things drop to an all-time low in terms of plot interest as we detour onto the planet Desperus and waste some time with a pack of ignorant criminals. No doubt this foreshadows Cygnus Alpha - the planet's counterpart on Terry Nation's "Blake's 7" series. Thank God this only lasts for half an episode and not a full one as I had anticipated from Rosemary Howe's novelization. There is some significance to this sequence, besides allowing Chen to get to Earth ahead of our friends, and that is its severe consequences to Katarina. Her moment would seem to be the ideal note on which to end episode three, but.... not quite enough time; that's for another episode.

4. The Traitors - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)

The actual available clip isn't too riveting in itself, when wrenched out of the proper context of the story. All four men present seem to be simply getting on each other's nerves with every line of dialogue, and although Katarina has no actual lines herself, she manages to lace the entire clip's soundtrack with unpleasant, tortured cries of agony anyway. The clip builds suspense, then ends before the main event, (in which Douglas Camfield teaches Stanley Kubrick how to easily achieve shots of weightlessness on a low budget for "2001: A Space Odyssey"), so the clip's significance is really diminished in my opinion. The soundtrack reveals much of the missing payoff - a subdued, reflective mood by the other castmembers, and a tour de force for one of Cary's pieces of electronic music, no doubt selling the floating effect even more. All in all, after excusing the script and placing it within the story's context, the part we can watch is still well directed and acted out.

Episode four then gives us as near a total main cast as any single Masterplan episode, featuring Katarina, Bret Vyon, Sara Kingdom, Trantis, Lizan, and Karlton, not to mention more intrigue and gut-wrenching plot twists than any other episode as well. Shades of "Blake's 7"! Only the Monk is missing. If the Masterplan story is never completely recovered, this episode might well best represent the entire story. It is certainly a significant, "must-have" one!

5. Counter Plot - by Terry Nation (with Donald Tosh)

Once more, we get to see a full, original episode. As a continuation from episode four, it works fairly well, but on its own, it seems to start off a bit silly, and Tristram Cary's light and quaint music is a major factor, as is the distraction of the scientists' experiment before its impact on the plot is revealed. William Hartnell barely has time to show any strength in his performance as the Doctor before he hits his Masterplan acting low-point, making silly faces while a superimposed white-wash suffices as a cheap source of BBC special effect. Please stay tuned though, as things quickly get much better.

Karlton and Borkar press the scientists for information on "what just happened", creating an excellent sci-fi mystery investigation, one which also happens to place our main characters out on the front line of exploring a new frontier and confronting new, mysterious creatures. Right on! Everything you'd want from a good sci-fi adventure! The transportation sequence becomes beautiful and haunting, as Camfield masterfully overlays images of Steven and Sara and the mouse cage transmitter floating across the universe. My impression of the images has always been outer space, but on closer examination, I can't really tell what those backgrounds really are. That's the kind of question that really inspires artistic debate - maybe we shouldn't be able to see "normal" space during a teleportation. Cary's music becomes suitably weird and atmospheric at this point, which is a very welcome return shift. And there's never any real danger of not understanding what's going on, because the scenes of the scientists explaining their process are so perfectly juxtaposed. The blend of science, mystery, and wonder is perfect. The only thing potentially missing is the inclusion of the Doctor's face in the montage, but if he's going to make silly faces again, maybe his omission was actually a good thing. With the right expression, a shot of the Doctor in such a montage would surely have become a classic one, re-used in flashbacks and specials and capturing the essence of the entire program. Once again, William Hartnell misses out on a great opportunity.

Now, here we get a perfect example of how to make a story that needs padding work even better than if it didn't. After the scientists fill us with awe and wonder at the prospect of the planet Mira, we get a nice, long, atmospheric motion shot over the quietly bubbling Mira swamp set, complete with forlorn music, to make sure that the idea makes a lasting impression on us viewers. In fact, this happens several times this episode, at appropriate points. Richard Martin, Mervyn Pinfield, take notes! Good stories need atmospheric moments of much music and no dialogue - it helps make them POWERFUL! And unfortunately, writers often have a tendency to focus on dialogue and action, and forget the purely emotional techniques that cinematic art can draw upon. At least Douglas Camfield was on his material, as usual.

Emphasis switches from minor characters back to our main characters closer to the end of the episode, putting the Doctor back in the lime-light as the lead problem solver and group leader, allowing Steven to confront Sara on recent events, and focusing once more on the main plot with Chen and the Daleks. All this builds to the Doctor's first open face-to-face confrontation with the Daleks, a nice high dramatic note to create a cliff-hanger out of!

6. Coronas of the Sun - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry Nation

The writing hat finally changes, and the change is noticeable in at least one significant respect. Dennis Spooner writes for a much smaller cast than does Terry Nation. In fact, the only new characters Spooner creates during the Masterplan, the return of the Monk aside, are three or four Egyptians who all seem alike, and two bland sportscasters. Moreover, the population of Earth in 4000 A.D., including important minor characters like Karlton, Lizan, Roald, and the rest of Special Security Service are completely ignored for the rest of the story. This is of particular sadness in the final episodes, which would probably work better with an increase in the presence of good/neutral guys that the Doctor and his friends can be proud to have saved. However, the main characters themselves have more to do in the Dennis Spooner scripts, and this in itself is also a good thing.

Steven manages to contribute more than shouts for once, as an interesting sub-plot develops around him. Although he comes from what will be our future for some time to come, he is actually the most primitive member of the Doctor's party at that point (aggressive behaviour aside), which is a nice little irony.

Sara's most memorable line written for this episode is the one in which she gets to spit at Chen and call him a traitor, a moment which skips by on the soundtrack without any real emotion in it or surrounding it. Most disappointing. Sara's character arc is potentially the most interesting thing in this story, and it seems too easily to have been ignored in the production..... Jean Marsh is capable of much more.... perhaps her eyes burned through Chen with a cold stare for most of the scene to make up for what wasn't in her voice. One lives in hope.

The action bringing the Masterplan story to a temporary conclusion for its first half is dramatic enough, but also a little bit two dimensional and contrived. Still, it works well enough, and nicely brings all the main characters together for the first time since the story began. Satisfying, and good.

7. The Feast of Steven - by Terry Nation

Now we come to the December 25, 1965 special Christmas episode that many people feel does not need to be truly counted as part of "The Dalek Masterplan" proper because it doesn't really impact the plot of the Masterplan story at all. Well, it may not impact plot, but I feel very strongly that it impacts character, Sara's in particular. Her inclusion in the Doctor's party was merely an inconvenience of duty and circumstance, but now that she is traveling with them in the TARDIS, getting involved in completely light-hearted fun in other times, and subjected to a heavy dose of Christmas/New Year's spirit, it does much to soften and balance her character, help her bond with the Doctor and Steven, and make her firm alliance with them all the more believable. However, this comes out in John Peel's novelization more than anywhere else, and the television episode is quite lacking without paying as much attention to this aspect.

You have to love the classic moment of the Doctor proclaiming his universal citizenship in front of the precinct's highest ranking officer, who would rather believe that the Doctor is some crazy homeless vagrant. This episode is designed to be full of good, humorous moments, which I like.

I anticipated that I'd sooner see this episode recovered than number three (Devil's Planet) any day, until I heard the soundtracks. Devil's Planet has extra goodies all through the beginning, making it more worthwhile than I had expected, while The Feast of Steven was disappointing. Not only does the script drag Sara through the episode without focusing on her internal development, but it instead focuses on a heck of a lot of quite humourless inanity. Is it the Donald Tosh flavour of fleshing out scripts that brings us a pile of characters ragging and nagging at each other once more? This is not my idea of humour. The actors brought in don't help matters much either, and perhaps the worst offender is sadly the director's wife Sheila Dunn in the Blossom LeFavre role. She will be great in "Inferno" (story no. 54) and decent in "The Invasion" (story no. 46), but here she does little more than force the volume meters to full distortion at the top end of the scale with constant uncharismatic screams. It's an agonized death throe before she's rescued from the buzz saw, and it's exactly the same agonized death throe as she wails over her "ruined scene". No change of mood, making it harder to find the humour. The rest of the cast is forced to try to shout over her to make themselves heard, and the whole fiasco misses the mark. This is probably the least effective episode that Douglas Camfield ever directed. At least poor Sheila delivers some redeeming lines - as she sobs (not screams, but truly sobs), thinking that her director is going to replace her. If only the rest of her performance had been as good.....

William Hartnell (and possibly Camfield as well) threw a nice bit into the ending of the episode, after the Doctor wishes Steven and Sara a Merry Christmas toast, he turns to wish the audience one as well just before the credits roll. Haha! This MAKES the episode as far as I'm concerned, and puts the mostly aimless, light-hearted shenanigans into the context that it so badly needs. Good for you, Billy! This made script editor Donald Tosh a bit upset, did it? Doubly good! It would have been even better if Peter Purves and Jean Marsh had timed themselves as though they were in on it as well, so as not to drown out the beginning of it with loud party shouts..... Even so, the moment still manages to be the highlight of the episode.

8. Volcano - by Dennis Spooner, based on Ideas by Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner

This episode has more time-machine movement than you can shake a stick at. The TARDIS makes three landings and three take-offs, and the Monk's TARDIS and the Dalek Time Machine manage one landing and take-off each. That's ten possible effects-shots which Camfield and the BBC might be tempted to cut corners on. To suit my own tastes, the episode would need to feature all of them to receive top marks from me, especially the landings, although the writers still seem to be scripting higher drama around the take-offs in these early years, which is much more anti-heroic and less gripping in my view. The soundtrack seems to indicate that only the Monk's TARDIS and the Trafalgar Square transitions were skipped. Six out of ten isn't too bad, considering that the more important landings appear to have been taken care of....

At last, the Monk makes his return appearance for the Masterplan, and in this episode his shenanigans with the Doctor are merely a welcome subplot in the larger scheme. It's an interesting diversion, but one that only deserves about half an episode, which is about exactly what it gets.

The rest of time is taken up by two quick "throw the pursuer off our tail" landings, and a welcome bit of intrigue amongst the Daleks on Kembel. The first landing on the cricket field seems to be a good idea with much potential humour, but the actual dialogue that the two sportscasters receive only seems to generate a feeling of all-round boredom, and the scene doesn't really work as far as the script goes. The last landing in the New Year's celebration in London works much better, complimenting last week's Christmas episode and further tweaking Sara's feelings for Bret and helping the three good guys bond a little more. John Peel has made some very good additions to the novel here concerning Sara's character, as she resolves to take over her brother's mission and see it through to the end to make up for what she did to him. Also, the Doctor's eagerness and sympathy to help her, countered by his lack of control over the TARDIS's destinations, makes an interesting and appropriate bit of drama all on its own. Meanwhile, the television version seems once more to be scrounging to find material to fill out the time slot, without clueing in to character development in the three regulars.

This episode still works well, because there is plenty happening on Kembel to flesh out the rest of its 25-minute duration. Chen and the Daleks discover they have been duped, while Trantis and Celation return to show that relations between the alliance members are becoming strained. The sub-plot between Trantis and Chen vying for more power and accusing each other - this subplot also resolves itself here in some scenes which work well. Considering Roy Evans other work in Doctor Who and Blake's 7, he does Trantis every justice under Douglas Camfield's direction - no surprises or disappointments from the soundtrack. Terence Woodfield's Celation sounds a bit forced for my tastes though, his added sibilance barely distinguishing his voice from that of Trantis. Something deeper like Robert Cartland's Malpha might have been more effective. The Daleks soon muster their forces, but only at the end of the episode do they actually set off after the Doctor through time. Logically paced.....

9. Golden Death - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry Nation

For all its unnecessary gruesomeness, the episode's title seems to have little to do with anything in the episode, and a change would be most appropriate. In fact, the working title "Land of the Pharaohs" seems to be a lot better.

At last we come to the first fairly well-developed setting of the Masterplan story, apart from Kembel itself, as we get two full episodes set in Egypt during the final stages of the building of the great Pyramids. Time machine effects have been simplified to one landing each for all three vehicles, plus one extended experiment in manual chameleon circuit control - "Attack of the Cybermen" (story no. 138) may not hold the definitive word on this subject after all. Judging by the sound, each effect seems to have received its due.

All of the episode's characters are in the same setting, which should allow for plenty of interaction between them all, however the newly created Egyptian characters seem to get the short end of the stick, and the Doctor is mostly confined to sneaking around by himself and interacting with technology more than with other characters. A confrontation between the Doctor and the Egyptians could have solved both problems, especially had the Doctor been able to do something heroic for them, but this doesn't happen in either this episode or the next.

William Hartnell seems to have had one terrible sore throat for the taping of this episode, but to his credit, he is a real trouper and does not fail to put his struggled-out all into the delivery of all of his lines to hit the emotional mark.

The episode would be rather bland and one dimensional if it weren't for the inclusion of the Monk, who manages to play both sides against each other and inject huge amounts of humour into the proceedings as well. The best written scenes of the episode, special effects wonders aside, are the Monk's confrontation with Chen near the middle, and his confrontation with the Doctor at the end. Peter Butterworth seems a little unsure how to play his first scene against Chen and the Daleks, but quickly improves next episode. Also worthy of note is Steven's conversation with the Egyptians (Khepren in the novel vs. Tuthmos on TV), as Steven's knowledge of the situation conflicts with the Egyptians' point of view.

10. Escape Switch - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry Nation

Once more, we actually get to see a full episode, and Douglas Camfield makes sure it is interesting and riveting all the way through with his mastery of camera angles and shot sequencing. Unlike rival director Richard Martin's Dalek work, there's never any unnecessary confusion as to what is going on.

The companions and the villains carry the story for the first nine minutes, and do an incredibly good job of it too. I think Peter Butterworth does his definitive work as the Meddling Monk here in this episode, as he is more involved with a tangible plot and displays more character than he did in "The Time Meddler" (story no. 17).

The Doctor takes his time to show up on the scene, but when he does, he makes a dramatic entrance and maintains a very commanding presence throughout the rest of the episode. Nicely done!

The episode strains credulity during the exchange, as the Daleks free their prisoners first in an amazing act of trust, after which the Doctor has plenty of time to double cross them and thus allow the universe to remain a safe, libertarian place. Yet he hands over the real core, without having any really significant safety measures in place for himself or his companions. He's a man of his word at least. Perhaps that's why the Daleks trust him more than anyone on their Intergalactic Alliance Council.

Sure, it is all a bit cliché. Firstly, the whole idea of an exchange is ripped off from episode six, which was more believable and crafty back then. Secondly, the role of the Egyptians has been further reduced to something we've seen on Doctor Who many times, especially in Terry Nation stories: an un-allied standby sacrificial cavalry, which allows the monsters to get angry at the Doctor and then kill some poor extras instead. Not only has this also already been done in episode six with the Visians, it's been done as recently as episode nine with same said Egyptians before they went for reinforcements. Excusing the poor design of the technique for the Dalek negative beam effect, Douglas Camfield makes the most of it with a careful, conscious planning of exactly who and what will be in the shot when the black and white gets reversed. The action is very believably and clearly done, and all participants remain within their characters the whole time. However, the script has failed to build this moment up to anything more than yet another dispassionate display of Dalek (and writer's) callousness, a bland spectacle with little encouragement for the viewer to root for or care about either side in the struggle. Is that Hyksos who gets gunned down in the first volley of Dalek fire? We have preciously little reason to care in the TV version. John Peel's novel helps matters somewhat though, in painting a relatively victorious picture for the Egyptians this second time around, which is nicely built up throughout the Egypt sequence. That was good. However, he takes it a little too far with the suggestion that the Sphinx was nothing more than something pretty to cover up a smashed and buried Dalek.

The memory of high-energy mayhem from this randomizing element in the plot carries over to lend weight to the rest of the scenes wrapping up this episode, scenes which are very well-done dramatically, but whose more quiet nature might seem to be lacking something without the action sequence preceding them. All time-machine effects are done on the cheap, with not a single proper dissolve effect anywhere. This is disappointing, especially as we have important events occurring outside the Monk's TARDIS as it dematerializes, but all we get is the camera shifting to move the Monk's TARDIS out of the frame while an undifferentiated sound effect is heard. However, acting performances seem to be much better here than in the previous three episodes, so perhaps the shift in emphasis away from effects shots has its benefits after all, but ideally it would be nice to have both.

Anyway, the resolution of the Monk subplot and his final scene in a snowy wasteland are enjoyable, as are the scenes of the Doctor and his companions preparing to bravely pursue the Daleks to Kembel with help from a gadget of the Monk's. One question that boggles my mind is why the Doctor has Steven pull the "main switch" instead of doing it himself. After all, he is supposed to be the only character capable of operating the TARDIS, and there is considerable risk this time around as well. John Peel fixes this by having the Doctor tell his companions to stand well back as he pulls the switch himself. The TV episode is more believable though, I think, in confining the risk of destruction to the central column, and not threatening to blow up the entire TARDIS.

All in all, episode 10 here manages to be one of the most enjoyable of the entire Dalek Masterplan story, with a large cast of the story's most important characters all interacting with each other successfully, and none of the irritating dialogue that plagued many of this epic's earliest episodes. I think we can consider ourselves very lucky that this is one of the episodes we still have available to watch.

11. The Abandoned Planet - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry Nation

A big mystery surrounds this episode's production.... Exactly why was it rewritten at the last minute to pull another missing Doctor stunt on the audience? Normally this is done to give star William Hartnell a week off, either for illness, injury, or holiday purposes. That would have meant taping the bulk of this episode, and probably the beginning of the next, during the week that Hartnell was not there, and then as he returned the following week, they could then record his first scene for episode eleven in the TARDIS, (kind of like a POST-filmed insert), and complete the bulk of episode twelve. However, according to Andrew Pixley's ever informative Archive features in Doctor Who Magazine, Hartnell was on hand both weeks for both episodes' rehearsals and recordings, and certainly doesn't sport the sore throat he had back in episode nine. Each week also saw a whole episode being recorded, with nothing out of sequence between episodes. The goal of this exercise therefore remains an enigma.

However, the end result is clear. The Doctor's absence is not particularly well dealt with on this occasion, as Steven and Sara's achievable goals in dealing with the main plot are now upstaged by the useless, unachievable goal of finding the Doctor, which tempts the audience to notice the absence and miss his presence all the more. Dennis Spooner has made this mistake before.... Or is it Donald Tosh repeating the error this time?

On the one hand, I'd love to have this episode recovered to see the resolution of the entire plot surrounding the tensions between the Masterplan Allies, which is this episode's particular well-deserved and interesting strength. On the other hand, this resolution really requires the Doctor's presence in order to work for me, as neither Steven nor Sara have the diplomatic skills or strength of principle to believably pull off these scenes for me. What's more, Sara's new role pretty much prevents her from acting on or emoting much of her hatred for Chen - arguably the center of her character arc, and Steven's aggressive tendencies cannot be too effective here either. Perhaps it's better to remember this episode as it was originally scripted, and as John Peel quite rightly decided to novelize it - with a fully present Doctor.

Even with the usual minus marks of a Doctor-less episode, there is still enough intrigue going on between Chen, the Daleks, and the Alliance members, not to mention a particularly eerie atmosphere surrounding the abandoned base on Kembel, to make the episode still very worthwhile. It's got a variety of aliens, a dramatically exploding ship, and Douglas Camfield as a director. And William Hartnell does get at least one scene of good length in near the beginning - the first time he's been so well represented during one of his "absences". Perhaps I'll take my chances and brave the taped episode anyway should it be recovered, Doctor-less or not.

Still, in terms of voice performances, the Masterplan Allies are mostly represented by an overtly hissing Celation, and they seem far more juvenile than they deserve to be. Malpha is still bizarrely silent, when he should instead be declaring, "It's clobbering time!" ...or something to that effect. Camfield may have done a few things visually to have these aliens come off a bit better - he usually does, but vocally they don't seem to be enough of a draw to make the episode desirable with Hartnell not there.

12. The Destruction of Time - by Dennis Spooner, based on an Idea by Terry Nation

At last the grand epic story of the William Hartnell era comes to its final conclusion. Strangely, there is no more appearance of the Alliance members, no mention of Karlton or any of the uncorrupted SSS good guys from Earth (or indeed any attempt to tie up their loose plot threads that were left hanging back in episode five), and no exciting space battle. The cast has been reduced a little too much in order for the ending to work as it really should. John Peel amends this somewhat in his novelization, but still doesn't go far enough in my opinion. The soundtrack reveals that there is good time for more to be squeezed in here and there....

At least the Doctor pops back up again. We get yet another repeat of the "you can't shoot me, because I'm holding the Tarranium" gag, although this time the Doctor's got hold of the entire Time Destructor as well. No more Mr. Nice Guy, he's playing for keeps this time.

Chen's final moments are predictable action-wise, but the depths of insanity that his character arc leads him to still provide some interesting dramatic moments.... and you know that Kevin Stoney and the blank-faced Daleks can pull it off superbly.

Episode Twelve's biggest strength is in all the drama surrounding the Time Destructor's activation and effects on Kembel. While the Doctor's heroic importance is only about mediocre-okay compared to many exploits of his later incarnations, this is definitely the best heroic finish for him during any William Hartnell Dalek story. Steven and Sara also both get their due, and by the time it's all over, the odyssey and the drama all feel quite worthwhile.

Sound effects and music play a large role in this episode, maintaining the right feel all the way through, and providing much of the strength and power that this epic conclusion needs. This is the third of the five stories in which Tristram Cary's original Dalek music is used, but the soundtrack reveals that it was used far less than it probably deserved. In fact, the only music track I can find that belongs to the original Dalek story is the "City Theme", which makes its first and only Masterplan appearance in early episode twelve. Cary has basically created a completely new score for Masterplan, containing a full set of new weird-and-wonderful electronic tracks for Daleks, aliens, and space scenes, and a full set of more traditional pieces for more earth-normal contexts. A grand job, and most effective too! I still miss the "Ambush" track and a few others, partly for nostalgia's sake, but also because they would have been equally effective..... and somehow an integral part of the Skaro culture....
Music by Tristram Cary
The entire original music score
is available on:
Audio CD
Doctor Who - Devils' Planets:
The Music of Tristram Cary

More info & buying options

With all its faults, "The Dalek Masterplan" has managed to stretch itself over a range of interesting settings and an equally wide range of emotions and plot twists, and bring us a fairly decent sci-fi adventure odyssey to boot. It also has probably the best production team of the year. With all this going for it, it is sure to secure its position as season three's main event, and become a very easy contender for best story of the season.

International Titles:

Deutsch: (Der Dalek-Meisterplan)

Magyar: "A dalekok mesteri terve"

  1. A rémálom megkezdődik
  2. A döntő csata napja
  3. Az ördög bolygója
  4. Az árulók
  5. Az ellenterv
  6. Napkoszorúk
  7. Steven ünnepe
  8. Vulkán
  9. Az aranyhalál
  10. Menekülésre kapcsolva
  11. Az elhagyatott bolygó
  12. Az idő megsemisítése

Русский: "Генеральный план далеков"

  1. Кошмар начинается
  2. День апокалипсиса
  3. Планета дьявола
  4. Предатели
  5. Встречный заговор
  6. Корона Солнца
  7. Торжество Стивена
  8. Вулкан
  9. Золотая смерть
  10. Переключатель побега
  11. Потерянная планета
  12. Разрушение времени


  1. L'incubo inizia
  2. Il giorno della battaglia finale
  3. Il pianeta del diavolo
  4. I traditori
  5. Contro complotto
  6. Le corone del Sole
  7. Il banchetto di Steven
  8. Vulcano
  9. Morte dorata
  10. Via di fuga
  11. Il pianeta abbandonato
  12. La distruzione del tempo

Français: (Le grand plan des Daleks)

English Novelizations:

Rosemary Howe: "The Dalek Masterplan"

(prologue plus 12 episodes)

John Peel: "The Daleks' Master Plan, Part I: Mission to the Unknown"

(prologue plus episodes 1-6)

John Peel: "The Daleks' Master Plan, Part II: The Mutation of Time"

(episodes 7-12)

The Hungarians and Italians seem to be looking for a "final/decisive battle" in episode two, rather than simply having "armageddon" break loose and run amok for 11 more episodes.

Meanwhile, the Russians seem to have lost a planet for episode 11, rather than losing all its inhabitants.

Then of course, there is the controversy over the "proper" English title for the entire story, which I will gladly keep alive.
Although the "Lost in Time" DVD release, CD Audio release, and official two-volume novelization refer to this story as "The Daleks' Master Plan",
I prefer "The Dalek Masterplan", a title promoted on the "Daleks: The Early Years" compilation BBC Video VHS tape release and on Rosemary Howe's earlier fanzine novelization. It's basically the difference between saying "The Frenchmen's Master Plan" versus "The French Masterplan" - both are grammatically correct, depending on your exact meaning. Having an apostrophe after the plural "s" implies a limited rogue group of Daleks, in addition to simply looking clumsy as a title. "The Dalek Masterplan" sounds more like a cultural derivation encompassing the entire Dalek race, which I find far more intriguing. I also strongly believe in the Germanic tradition of creating compound words where appropriate.

This story is not known to exist in its original format (12 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes) in its entirety.
Doctor Who: Lost in Time - William Hartnell
1 DVD disc

(also included in Lost in Time Boxed Sets)

Coverage on The Dalek Masterplan includes:
  • Three complete episodes:
    • Episode 2: Day of Armageddon
    • Episode 5: Counter Plot
    • Episode 10: Escape Switch
  • Clips with full audio from episodes 1, 3 & 4
  • Episode 2 commentary by actors Peter Purves (Steven) & Kevin Stoney (Mavic Chen), & Dalek designer Raymond Cusick.
  • Extended footage & raw elements from Episode 2
More details & buying options for "Lost in Time" DVD's
Audio CD - Doctor Who - The Daleks' Master Plan. (5 discs)

This 5 CD set features the complete audio tracks of all 12 television episodes of this story,
and the special prologue episode "Mission to the Unknown", in two formats:
  • The CD Audio version features narration by actor Peter Purves (who also played Steven Taylor) to help listeners follow what used to be visual aspects of the story. This version spans all 5 discs and is playable in any normal audio CD player.
  • The .mp3 version can be accessed from the first disc by computer only (Mac or PC), and features the original sound from the television episodes with no narration added.

Doctor Who: Daleks - The Early Years
introduced by Peter Davison

1 VHS video tape

Coverage on The Dalek Masterplan includes:
  • Two complete episodes:
    • Episode 5: Counter Plot
    • Episode 10: Escape Switch
  • shorter clips, some with audio, from episodes 1 - 4
  • interviews with Dalek designer Raymond Cusick, Dalek operator John Scott Martin, and Dalek creator Terry Nation.
More details & buying options for missing episode VHS videos
Music by Tristram Cary
Audio CD - Devils' Planets - The Music of Tristram Cary. (2 discs)
Features Cary's complete score for "The Dalek Masterplan", in addition to music from "The Daleks" (Story No. 2) and "The Mutants" (Story No. 63).

More info & buying options

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Massacre"

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