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Carnival of Monsters (TV story)

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Carnival of Monsters
Carnivalofmonsters title
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Carnival of Monsters
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Jo
Main enemy:
Main setting: Inter Minor
Key crew
Writer: Robert Holmes
Director: Barry Letts
Producer: Barry Letts
Release details
Story number: 66
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 10
Premiere broadcast: 27 January - 17 February 1973
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: PPP
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Memorable moment
Dinosaurs on port side - Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters - BBC02:09

Dinosaurs on port side - Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters - BBC

Another memorable moment
Vorg's alien peepshow - Doctor Who Carnival of Monsters - BBC00:44

Vorg's alien peepshow - Doctor Who Carnival of Monsters - BBC

One more memorable moment
Escaping the Drashigs - Doctor Who Carnival of Monsters - BBC01:48

Escaping the Drashigs - Doctor Who Carnival of Monsters - BBC

Behind the scenes video
Destroy All Monsters! - Carnival of Monsters - DVD out now!02:17

Destroy All Monsters! - Carnival of Monsters - DVD out now!

More behind the scenes stuff
Exclusive First Look Destroy All Monsters! Part 2 - Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters01:51

Exclusive First Look Destroy All Monsters! Part 2 - Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters

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 would become 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 TV: 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.

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.

Synopsis Edit

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.

Plot Edit

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.

Nobody here but us chickens - Doctor Who - BBC sci-fi01:46

Nobody here but us chickens - Doctor Who - BBC sci-fi

"Are you sure you can steer that TARDIS properly?"

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

Trapped in a Miniscope - Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters - BBC02:18

Trapped in a Miniscope - Doctor Who - Carnival of Monsters - BBC

The Doctor and Jo inside the workings of the Scope

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 being like "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, and find 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

Hunted by Drashigs - Doctor Who Carnival of Monsters - BBC01:50

Hunted by Drashigs - Doctor Who Carnival of Monsters - BBC

The Drashigs hunt... them.

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.

Carnival ep3

A Drashig breaks through

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.

Carnival ep4

The Doctor escapes

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.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Devices Edit

  • The Doctor has heard of miniscopes. On his homeworld, he convinced the Time Lords to outlaw them, though obviously at least one of them survived.

The Doctor's items Edit

  • The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to ignite and explode the marsh gas to slow down the Drashigs. However, he can't use it on an ordinary door lock on the Bernice because "it only works on electronic locks".

Foods and beverages Edit

  • On board the SS Bernice Major Daly pours himself a large scotch.

Cultural references from the real world Edit

Languages Edit

  • The Doctor fails to understand Vorg's parlare.
  • Although the Eleventh Doctor will later claim to speak all languages, including Horse, Baby, and Cat and after him the Twelfth Doctor would state he can speak even Dinosaur, as of his third regeneration he does not appear to have picked up Chicken.

Species Edit

  • A Cyberman, an Ogron and a Drashig are trapped in the miniscope and all returned to their home times.
  • Vorg claims he can't control the Drashigs (they're not intelligent), but he can control the Plesiosaurus. Of course, it becomes clear that Vorg is not knowledgable about the machine and he may be misunderstanding the function or the creatures.
  • Wallarians are known for their gambling.
  • Jo argues, pretty much in vain, that humans in the miniscope are smarter than whelks caught by a small boy in a rock pool.
  • Valdek was a scientist who believed that life in the universe was infinitely variable.

Planets Edit

  • The Doctor mentions (for the first time) 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 of 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 would appear 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.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode one - 9.5 million viewers
  • Episode two - 9.0 million viewers
  • Episode three - 9.0 million viewers
  • Episode four - 9.2 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • 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

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • 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 is quite obvious as it 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.
  • At 3 minutes 12 seconds, when the Doctor steps out of the TARDIS, you can clearly see they are just stepping out of a police box prop, as there is no TARDIS interior wall.
  • 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.
  • When the TARDIS is grabbed by a giant hand at the cliffhanger of episode one, it is obviously a palm-sized model of the TARDIS and not the actual life-size prop (evidenced by the distinctive hand-painted letters on the "POLICE BOX" placard). This reveals the image of the hand and "TARDIS" have been enlarged and overlayed with footage of the Doctor and Jo Grant in the cargo hold.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters.

Released:

Special Features:

  • 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
  • Alternate Theme Music
  • Trailer - The Five Faces of Doctor Who
  • Alternative Episode Four Ending
  • Photo Gallery & Production Subtitles
  • TARDISCam Sequence

Notes:

Special Edition release Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters: Special Edition.

Released:

Special Features:

Notes:

  • 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.

VHS releases Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters.

Released:

External links Edit


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