Carnival of Monsters was the second story in the tenth season of Doctor Who and the first to see the Third Doctor free from his exile. The serial was also the first to see a performance by Ian Marter, who later became a recurring face of the show as Harry Sullivan. In addition, this was the only televised Third Doctor-era story to feature a real appearance of a Cyberman, though not in a threatening manner. The Third Doctor would not truly be pitted against the Cybermen onscreen until The Five Doctors, after Jon Pertwee had left the role and then came back for the twentieth anniversary special.
Barry Letts chose to direct the story himself, as his contract permitted him to do so with one story per year — something he had previously done with Terror of the Autons. Originally titled Peepshow, Dicks took Vorg's line Carnival of Monsters to be a better name, despite Holmes's preference; there was concern that the name Peepshow might convey the wrong impression.
Much editing was done to Carnival of Monsters in order to thin it down to a workable running time. This resulted in the cliffhanger for part three being changed altogether. Originally intended to show the Doctor plummeting, apparently to his death, this sequence was cut and replaced with him leaving the miniscope.
The Doctor and Jo arrive on the SS Bernice, a cargo ship crossing the Indian Ocean. Things are not what they seem. A monster appears in the sea, events repeat themselves and a giant hand steals the TARDIS. Investigation reveals they are inside a miniscope, an alien peepshow sporting numerous miniaturised environments, which showman Vorg and his assistant Shirna have brought to amuse the populace of the planet Inter Minor.
Episode one Edit
At a spaceport on planet Inter Minor, travelling aliens Vorg and Shirna arrive and set up their show. Although Vorg's intentions aren't hostile, the representatives of the ruling class of Inter Minor display a cultural dislike of things that they view as alien or unnecessary, and their tribunal — Kalik, Orum, and their superior Pletrac — are suspicious and deny them an entrance visa.
Meanwhile, the TARDIS materialises on the planet Metebelis III — so the Doctor says. Yet when he and Jo Grant explore, they find they are aboard the cargo ship SS Bernice as it sails across the Indian Ocean in 1926.
The Doctor is sure that they are not on Earth and it seems something is afoot when a plesiosaurus rises from the sea. The Doctor and Jo meet Major Daly and his daughter, Claire Daly, passengers terrified by the plesiosaurus but who then forget about it. When the pair are caught by officer John Andrews, they are imprisoned, accused of being stowaways. Confined to a cabin, Jo notices a discrepancy: a clock in the room has gone back more than an hour in a few minutes. After escaping, they notice that Andrews, Daly and his daughter are repeating things they said and did when they met them before. They have forgotten about the meeting. The Doctor becomes interested in a mysterious hatch made of an alien alloy. He goes to fetch a magnetic core extractor from the TARDIS. As they reach the TARDIS, the Doctor and Jo are stunned as a giant hand swoops down out of nowhere and grabs the police box.
Episode two Edit
Vorg pulls the "bit of bric-a-brac" (the TARDIS) out but sticks it back inside the machine. Later, Vorg shows the tribunal of mistrusting natives, Pletrac, Kalik and Orum, some of the creatures inside the scope, including Ogrons, Cybermen, Tellurians and Drashigs, huge deadly carnivores. Vorg explains how inside the miniscope the miniaturised creatures live in miniature versions of their natural habitats. As the tribunal members watch the events within the human environment, Vorg shows them the machine's capabilities by adjusting a dial which amplifies the specimens' hostility.
Inside, the Doctor and Jo are captured, but Andrews chooses to fight the Doctor rather than imprison him. Using skills he learned from John L. Sullivan, the Doctor overpowers Andrews, allowing him and Jo to escape. They are chased across the deck but make it to the hatch and find themselves in a place the Doctor describes as like being "inside a wristwatch".
The tribunal on Inter Minor chooses to eradicate the illegal specimens inside the scope, but the eradicator only damages the machine. The locals are disturbed that their great weapon was unable to destroy the scope, and they suppose that it's actually a plot by their enemies. Suspicious that the scope contains an illegal transmitter, Orum searches the machine and pulls out the mini-TARDIS. Soon it expands to its normal size, horrifying the Tribunal.
The Doctor and Jo find another hatch inside and open it, finding themselves in another environment, an expanse of marshes, not what the Doctor was expecting. They turn to leave, but a Drashig rises from the marshes, ready for the kill.
Episode three Edit
The Doctor attacks the Drashigs using the sonic screwdriver, igniting marsh gas. Vorg is able to slow down the Drashigs with his hand, enabling the Doctor and Jo to reach the inner circuitry again. The Doctor realises they are in a miniscope, explaining that earlier in his life he convinced the Time Lords to ban the use of miniscopes. Jo is horrified that anyone would use such a device. They are troubled to find out that the Drashigs haven't given up their pursuit and have broken into the circuitry as well. The pair find a deep shaft which leads to the bottom of the circuitry and the way out, so they return to the Bernice circuit to fetch a rope. Jo is caught by Andrews again, who has once again forgotten they have previously met.
There is trouble outside the scope too. The tribunal are trying to have Vorg and Shirna deported, while the operators themselves have noticed the Drashigs have escaped from their circuit. When Kalik and Orum hear about this, they hatch a plan to let the Drashigs escape the machine and cause havoc, forcing the President to resign. Kalik believes the Functionaries need a purpose; rebellion will satisfy them. The Drashigs have now broken into the SS Bernice environment but are shot at and repelled by the crew. With a rope, the Doctor climbs down to the bottom of the shaft and exits the machine but collapses.
Episode four Edit
There is commotion on Inter Minor as the Doctor grows to his normal size. The Doctor confronts the tribunal about their allowing the scope on their planet and is horrified that Vorg and Shirna are more concerned with claiming insurance on the loss of livestock than saving the lives inside the scope. The Doctor ventures back inside the machine, while Kalik and Orum sabotage the eradicator to leave the city defenceless against the Drashigs, who finally escape and grow to formidable size. Vorg repairs the eradicator and turns it on the Drashigs, but not before they eat Kalik and Orum.
Inside, Jo escapes yet another capture by the crew of the Bernice and is reunited with the Doctor, but the scope is overheating, and they are overcome by the heat. They are brought back by Vorg, who activates the device the Doctor left for him, which also returns the life-forms inside the scope to their rightful places in space and time.
With the scope inoperable, Vorg tries to earn enough credit bars to get home by entertaining Pletrac with the old shell trick, while the Doctor and Jo return to the TARDIS, ready for their next adventure.
- Dr. Who - Jon Pertwee
- Jo Grant - Katy Manning
- Vorg - Leslie Dwyer
- Shirna - Cheryl Hall
- Major Daly - Tenniel Evans
- John Andrews - Ian Marter
- Claire Daly - Jenny McCracken
- Pletrac - Peter Halliday
- Kalik - Michael Wisher
- Orum - Terence Lodge
- Captain - Andrew Staines
Uncredited cast Edit
- Cyberman - Terence Denville (DWMS Winter 1994)
- Ogron - Rick Lester (DWMS Winter 1994)
- Stuntman/Functionary - Stuart Fell (DWMS Winter 1994)
- Director/Producer - Barry Letts
- Writer - Robert Holmes
- Assistant Floor Manager - Karilyn Collier
- Costumes - James Acheson
- Designer - Roger Liminton
- Film Cameraman - Peter Hamilton
- Film Editor - Peter Evans
- Film Sound - Derek Medus
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Make-Up - Angela Seyfang
- Production Assistant - Chris D'Oyly-John
- Script Editor - Terrance Dicks
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - Clive Thomas
- Studio Sound - Gordon Mackie
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - John Horton
Foods and beverages Edit
- Major Daly drinks scotch.
Cultural references from the real world Edit
- Major Daly tries to engage the Doctor in games of bridge and mahjong.
- Claire Daly reveals herself to be a fan of the play Lady, Be Good and its star, Fred Astaire.
- Wallarians are known for their gambling.
- Jo argues that humans in the miniscope are smarter than whelks.
- Valdek was a scientist who believed that life in the universe was infinitely variable.
- The Doctor mentions Metebelis III, "the famous blue planet of the Acteon group".
- Vorg and Shirna previously visited the planet Demos.
Story notes Edit
- Working titles for this story included The Labyrinth and Peepshow.
- Ian Marter (John Andrews) is credited as "Andrews" in Radio Times.
- Vorg's parlare in episode four is translated as:
- "Parlae the Carny?" (Do you talk the Carnival language?)
- "Varda the Bona Palone." (Look at the good (looking) Young Girl.)
- "Niente dinari here, y'jills." (No money to be made here, you know.)
- The title is the same as a Ray Bradbury short story "Carnival of Monsters" published in the 1940s. In it, a millionaire on Mars lures several health officials into his house. They meet a variety of gruesome fates inspired by different horror writers. However, the title of this episode may be unrelated.
- This is the first story to feature the term Tellurian to mean human being. This term appeared in other stories written by Robert Holmes, such as The Two Doctors.
- The Drashigs were named so by Holmes as an indirect anagram of "dish rag".
- The Ogron and the Cyberman, seen on the Miniscope's screen in episode two, were played by Rick Lester and Terence Denville respectively, who remained uncredited both on-screen and in Radio Times. These were not flashbacks to past stories, but were specially recorded.
- The story was repeated on BBC2 on consecutive evenings from Monday 16 to Thursday 19 November 1981 as part of the repeat season The Five Faces of Doctor Who, as this was a fine example of a story from Jon Pertwee's era, and one which existed entirely in colour. Although episode four exists in its complete form in the BBC Archives, a new version of the episode (forty-four seconds shorter than the original) was made on 625 line PAL colour videotape for the repeat screening, which was slightly edited at the request of Barry Letts to remove certain shots in the closing scene where close-ups of Pletrac had revealed that Peter Halliday's bald headpiece was starting to come loose.
- This story carries no on-screen producer credit for Barry Letts, as the BBC would only allow him to be credited as either producer or director.
- Music from episode one of this story exists. [statement unclear]
- Katy Manning provided the noises of the chickens seen in episode one herself.
- Episode one - 9.5 million viewers
- Episode two - 9.0 million viewers
- Episode three - 9.0 million viewers
- Episode four - 9.2 million viewers
- Episode two, as seen on the BBC video release of this story and as an extra on the Special Edition DVD release, which is about four minutes longer than the one originally transmitted and features the abandoned Delaware synthesiser arrangement of the theme music, is a specially extended version. (It is a rough cut that was prepared during the original editing of the story and never intended for public consumption. It still exists only because BBC Enterprises inadvertently included it in a package of episodes supplied to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The video release also erroneously includes a version of Episode Four prepared for a repeat transmission in 1981, which has a section missing from the closing scene.)
Filming locations Edit
- Tillingham Marshes, Howe Farm, Tillingham, Essex
- RFA Robert Dundas (as the SS Bernice)
- Carwoods Quarry (now known as Asheldham Nature Reserve), Asheldham, Essex
- BBC Television Centre (Studio 4 & 6), Shepherd's Bush, London
Production errors Edit
- In episode one, the wire lowering the cargo vessel during the opening shot is clearly visible
- In episode one, the sound of a pencil dropping and rolling across the studio floor can be heard.
- When Shirna does her little dance, the wire leading to the miniscope is visible.
- The TARDIS doors are open when the Doctor steps out, but instantly close when the giant hand reaches for it.
- The back of the Cyberman's head is loose.
- After entering the miniscope, the Doctor helps Jo over a piece of equipment. As they walk off, the shadow of the boom mike moves over a white piece of the set in the upper right part of the screen.
- Jo sinks waist-deep in the swamp, but by the time she reaches the cave, her trousers and both their sets of boots are dry and clean.
- In the final scene, Pletrac's bald headpiece has detached from the actor's scalp. Barry Letts fixed this for a BBC2 repeat in the '80s by removing some of the shots and thus several lines of dialogue. Letts's amended ending appears as an extra on the DVD release.
- As Jo and the Doctor investigate the chickens in the cargo hold, the camera pans to the right and we can glimpse the edge of the set and the supports behind it.
- In the opening sequence, because of the unique way CSO was used in this story, the Inter Minorians' legs flicker, and become incredibly thin.
- In several spots, the Drashigs continue screeching even though their mouths are shut.
- The grass inside the miniscope differs colour and texture between model shots and location filming.
- When the marsh gas is igniting, if you pause just beforehand, the explosives are visible.
- When the drashigs are on fire, and are burning up, the flames should be illuminating the grass and the drashigs themselves, but they don't, revealing it to just be a special effect.
- In the scenes inside the miniscope circuits, the studio floor reflects light from different directions, even though there isn't actually a place to reflect. The lights are actually from studio lights.
- Vorg mentions that Ogrons are sometimes used as servants by the Daleks. (TV: Day of the Daleks)
- The Doctor compares the disappearance of the Bernice crew to that of the Mary Celeste; an encounter between the First Doctor and the Daleks was behind the disappearance of the earlier ship's crew, although at the time the Doctor was unaware of what happened to the crew. (TV: The Chase) The Doctor had discovered his own involvement with the crew's disappearance by the time of his second incarnation. (AUDIO: The Forsaken, The Rosemariners)
- Jo gets a chance to use her skeleton keys and show off her escapology skills. (TV: Terror of the Autons)
- The Doctor's involvement in the banning of miniscopes is also mentioned in PROSE: The Empire of Glass.
- The Fourth Doctor later encountered a similar device to the miniscope, (TV: Nightmare of Eden) as did the Tenth Doctor. (COMIC: Arena of Fear)
- The Twelfth Doctor later suspected that he might be inside a miniscope again. (TV: Robot of Sherwood)
- The Doctor does eventually reach Metebelis III. (TV: The Green Death, Planet of the Spiders)
Home video and audio releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
This story was released as Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters.
- Commentary by Katy Manning and Barry Letts
- Extended and Deleted Scenes
- Behind the Scenes Footage
- Model Sequences - The Original 16mm Visual Effects Tests
- Using CSO - Demonstrated by Barry Letts
- Alternative Theme Music
- Trailer - The Five Faces of Doctor Who
- Alternative Episode Four Ending
- Photo Gallery & Production Subtitles
- TARDISCam Sequence
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
Special Edition release Edit
This story was released as Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters: Special Edition.
- Commentary by Peter Halliday, Cheryl Hall, Jenny McCracken, Brian Hodgson & Terrance Dicks moderated by Toby Hadoke
- Episode 2 - Early Edit
- Destroy All Monsters! documentary
- On Target With Ian Marter
- The A-Z of Gadgets and Gizmos
- Mary Celeste documentary
- All previous bonus features
- This story is only available in the UK and Australia as part of the Revisitations 2 box set, out in Region 2 on 28th March 2011. It was released with special editions of The Seeds of Death and Resurrection of the Daleks.
Doctor Who DVD Files Edit
Digital releases Edit
This story is available:
- in non-continental iTunes stores (Australia, Canada, UK and US) as a stand-alone season of Doctor Who: The Classic Series;
- in BBC Store (UK);
- on Amazon Video (UK) as Season 66 of Doctor Who (Classic) series;
- on Amazon Video (US) as part of Season 10 of Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Collection, which additionally includes the story The Three Doctors;
- for streaming through BritBox (US) as part of Season 10 of Classic Doctor Who.
VHS releases Edit
This story was released as Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters.
- Carnival of Monsters at the BBC's official site
- Carnival of Monsters at BroaDWcast
- Carnival of Monsters at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Carnival of Monsters at The Locations Guide