Magnus Greel was the Minister of Justice for the Supreme Alliance of Eastern States in the 51st century. When the Alliance fell to the Filipino Army in the Battle of Reykjavik, he became a wanted war criminal. He escaped by using an experimental time cabinet. He went to the late 19th century China and then to London, where he continued his depraved activities on a smaller scale.
In Greel's time, the Earth was split into a number of warring alliances. The Icelandic Alliance and Greel's Supreme Alliance were at war. The Icelandic Alliance fell when Greel had the doll-like but homicidal cyborg known as the Peking Homunculus assassinate its commissioner Ingrid Bjarnsdottir (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang; AUDIO: The Butcher of Brisbane), setting off World War VI. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng-Chiang)
He considered himself a driving force in the project in which his nation pioneered time travel. Apart from that he also personally experimented with the catalytic extraction chamber, an attempt to cannibalise life energies. One hundred thousand "enemies of the state" were massacred for these experiments.
As the Supreme Alliance's ironically named Minister of Justice, Greel carried out an atrocity earning him the title of the "Butcher of Brisbane." (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang) A human monster, Greel thought nothing of unprovoked murder and cannibalism. (PROSE: Under Reykjavik)
After the defeat of the Supreme Alliance in the Battle of Reykjavik, Greel utilised a time cabinet to travel with the Peking Homunculus back in time to 19th century China. Using information provided by his fifth incarnation, the earlier Doctor was able to prevent further bloodshed, bringing the brief Sixth World War to a close. (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang; AUDIO: The Butcher of Brisbane)
Living as a God Edit
Greel passed himself off as a god, Weng-Chiang, to Li H'sen Chang. With Chang posing as a conjurer and the Homunculus as a ventriloquist's dummy called Mr Sin, they eventually found themselves in London.
The passage through time had caused great damage to Greel's DNA, deforming him. He wore a mask and concealing clothes to hide his true form. While Greel lived in fear of Time Agents, Chang abducted young women, including Emma Buller, for Greel to use their life energy to restore himself — a method which was inherently flawed and only accelerated the damage.
Eventually he tried to restore his body using the time cabinet, but was instead shoved inside his own extraction chamber by the Fourth Doctor, resulting in fatal cellular collapse. (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang) The Fifth Doctor would later note that Greel's supposed death here was a part of the Web of Time. (AUDIO: The Butcher of Brisbane)
Even almost forty years after his death, the Tong of the Black Scorpion still venerated Greel as a god, while Chang's daughter Hsien-Ko- essentially immortal but also sterile due to her father's exposure to zygma energy before her conception- sought to divert the time cabinet to 1937 by generating a massive amount of Piezoelectricity to disrupt the zygma beam to 1937. She intended to use this opportunity to torture Greel for the dishonour he had caused her father, but the Doctor prevented this plan by destroying her nuclear power generator and then using the TARDIS as part of a near-time ram to force the cabinet back on course (PROSE: The Shadow of Weng-Chiang).
Survival in the 20th century Edit
Greel's mind was later reconstituted by Guinevere Godiva in 1968 by using a Venusian crystal. He took possession of Detective Inspector Dave Sacker to continue living. Jago and Litefoot discovered Greel's plan to return. Greel died when Ellie Higson stood in the distillation chamber and overloaded the power of his time cabinet. (AUDIO: The Final Act)
Behind the scenes Edit
Weng-Chiang was originally going to be the Master, following on from The Deadly Assassin, but producer Philip Hinchcliffe had this changed as he didn't want to have the Master revealed as the secret villain again. Alan Barnes has pointed out several clues in the story that still point to the original plan: the time cabinet ("read 'TARDIS'") and Greel referring to Leela as "the first morsel to feed my regeneration". (DWM 475)