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The Armageddon Factor (TV story)

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RealWorld
The Armageddon Factor
The Armageddon Factor
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Armageddon Factor
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companion(s): Romana, K9
Main enemy: The Shadow, Black Guardian
Main setting:
Key crew
Writer: Bob Baker
Dave Martin
Director: Michael Hayes
Producer: Graham Williams
Release details
Story number: 103
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 16
Premiere broadcast: 20 January - 24 February 1979
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: 5F
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You Shall Die for This! - Doctor Who - The Armageddon Factor - BBC03:43

You Shall Die for This! - Doctor Who - The Armageddon Factor - BBC

The Armageddon Factor was the sixth and final story of Season 16. It concluded the season-long Key to Time story arc. Mary Tamm makes her final appearance as Romana I while her replacement, Lalla Ward, appears in the story in a different role. The Black Guardian appears for the first time and isn't seen again until Mawdryn Undead.

Synopsis Edit

The final segment of the Key to Time is at the heart of a devastating war between neighbouring planets Atrios and Zeos. The Fourth Doctor discovers that a sinister entity is manipulating events and the cost of obtaining the final segment may be more personal than he imagined.

Plot Edit

Episode one Edit

The sixth and final segment of the Key to Time is on the planet Atrios. Twin planets Atrios and Zeos are locked in a long-running war. The young Princess Astra, nominal leader of Atrios, is appalled at the devastation, but the Marshal, in charge of the war, actually possesses the power. The Marshal secretly confesses to his aide-de-camp Shapp that they are losing. He is desperate for the edge that will bring victory. On instruction from an unseen entity, he leads Astra on a fool's errand into a trap, where she is abducted and transmatted away.

The Doctor and Romana land on Atrios, and the Doctor's TARDIS is soon buried in rubble from a Zeon aerial bombardment. The Marshal finds them, and believes them to be spies, along with Astra's lover, Merak. The Doctor tricks the Marshal to calling for K9, who knocks out the lights to let them escape. They find the TARDIS gone.

Episode two Edit

Merak has followed them, and they find Astra gone. K9, meanwhile, is lured away to be recycled. The Marshal is told by an unseen force, who tells him to treat the Doctor and Romana as guests. The Marshal implores the Doctor to assist Atrios. The Doctor proposes a shield that will stop the Zeons from attacking, but the Marshall insists he create a weapon for total victory.

Romana notices that the Marshal is acting under an outside influence when he accidentally shows a small device on his neck after flipping out when the Doctor runs to save K9 from the furnace. Afterwards, the Doctor asks the Marshal to send him to Zeos. The Marshal refuses. The Doctor reveals to Romana that something is probably blocking Zeos. Astra appears on a television and states that the Zeons will destroy Atrios if the Marshal does not surrender. The Doctor is trapped by two people in masks in a transmat.

Episode three Edit

The unseen entity tells Marshal that the war will stop, while the entity traps him in his domain. It calls itself the Shadow, who reveals that he has his TARDIS. The Shadow asks the Doctor to open his TARDIS and bring out the other five segements and then leaves. The Doctor decides to search for the sixth segment. Merak, meanwhile, has transmatted to the Zeos. Astra is on the ship in chains, being asked by the Shadow where the sixth segment is. Romana and K9 transmat to Zeos, following Merak.

Shapp finds himself with the Doctor after after being transmatted. K9 finds the commandant of the Zeon forces, which is actually a supercomputer named Mentalis. The Marshal, meanwhile, has decided to attack Zeos. They find that Mentalis has been instructed to conceal any information on Astra. The Marshal prepares to attack Zeos.

Episode four Edit

They learn that if it is destroyed, it will destroy Zeos and Atrios - a concept known as the Armageddon Factor. The computer can't counterattack because it's been told that the war is over. They discover the Marshal, in a last-ditch effort, is piloting the last Atrian warship to destroy the Zeon capital with a nuclear missile. The attack will set the mutual destruction in motion.

Astra is hypnotised by the Shadow and a projection of her lures Merak, and he begins falling. The Doctor is, meanwhile, trying to reinstruct Mentalis, but accidentally triggers the computer into waiting for an attack to blow itself up immediately. The computer becomes mindless by destroying its own control center.

Desperate to stop the Marshal's attack, the Doctor uses the five segments of the Key to Time, plus an artificial sixth segment made from chronodyne, to generate a temporary time loop around the Marshal's ship.

Meanwhile, K9 is hypnotised by a small device which takes the guise of a distress call. K9 is then transported away where he is reprogrammed. The TARDIS heads to the third planet, and the Shadow laughs that the Key to Time is his.

Episode five Edit

The Doctor, Astra and Romana are on the third planet, and each one is separated from the others. The Doctor finds another renegade Time Lord, Drax, in the corridors of the third planet. Drax was employed with threat of death, and he was forced to build Mentalis. The Doctor persuades Drax to assist him, and they remove the control device from K9. Drax repairs his dimensional circuit.

They uncover the ultimate truth: a third party, known as the Shadow, is manipulating the entire war from his enormous vessel midway between the two planets. An agent of the Black Guardian, the Shadow has been watching the final segment of the Key (Princess Astra herself), setting the war in motion and simply waiting while the Doctor risked life and limb to find the first five segments.

Drax enters with the dimensional circuit and shrinks the Doctor down.

Episode six Edit

Drax also shrinks himself, and they decide to have one of them provide a distraction. Romana, meanwhile, realises that Princess Astra is the sixth segment to the Key to Time. Merak transports himself to the third planet. Drax and the Doctor return to normal size and take the Key to Time from the Shadow. Merak stays behind to look for Astra, who has turned into the sixth segment.

When the artificial time loop expires, the Doctor and Drax disarm Mentalis. When the Marshal fires, the war rockets are deflected by a force field, destroying the Shadow and his ship instead.

Astra converts herself into the final segment, completing the Key to Time and giving the Doctor, for the moment, absolute power over the entire Universe. The White Guardian appears on the TARDIS monitor. He demands that the Doctor hand the Key over to him. When he rather callously dismisses Astra's sacrifice, the Doctor realises this is actually the Black Guardian in disguise. The Doctor orders the Key segments to disperse across the Universe, which also allows Astra to reunite with Merak. The Black Guardian is furious and threatens to destroy the Doctor. However, the Doctor has installed a randomiser on the TARDIS console, ensuring that neither he nor the Black Guardian knows where he'll end up next.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Animals Edit

  • Romana compares the "identification ritual" between K-9 and Mentalis to the dance of the bees.
  • The Doctor compares the programmation of Mentalis to the behaviour of a suiciding scorpion.

Astronomical objects Edit

Computers Edit

  • K9 is influenced by the computer Mentalis, with which only he can communicate.

Cultural references to real world Edit

  • The Doctor mentions Christopher Columbus.
  • The Doctor mentions Troy.
  • The Doctor claims to have learnt the tricks of the fire walkers while in Bali.

The Doctor Edit

  • Drax graduated with the Doctor from the "Class of 92", where they were "on the tech course together".
  • Drax says that was four hundred fifty years ago.
  • The Doctor was called Theta Sigma (shortened in Thete) by Drax and his other classmates (TV: The Happiness Patrol later confirms that this was a nickname, not the Doctor's actual name).

Individuals Edit

Media Edit

  • On Atros there is a television system, who broadcasts dramas and political messages.

Species Edit

  • Atrions are a human-like species. According to them, the missing Zeons shared the same aspect, with different clothings.

Substances Edit

  • The door to K block is shielded with lead.
  • The Doctor makes a false sixth segment out of chronodyne.

TARDIS Edit

Technology Edit

  • There is a transmat between Atrios, Zeos and the Planet of Evil. The Atrians seem to be unfamiliar with this technology.
  • Atrions are provided with hand-wrist Geiger counters called rad-checks.
  • On Atrios there is a recycling shaft, able to work metal.
  • The Shadow uses a little black neck device for mind control. The Doctor is immune to it.

Weapons Edit

  • Nuclear weapons are used in the war between the planets.
  • Atrions use weapons which emit green waves.
  • Disintegration capsules are used in the war to avoid prisoners.

Story notes Edit

  • Originally the sixth segment was to be the shadow of the Shadow.
  • This story had the working title of Armageddon.
  • Part one was promoted as the five-hundredth episode of Doctor Who.
  • This was the last six-part story broadcast. One more six part story, TV:Shada was partially produced, but never broadcast.
  • According to Mary Tamm in the DVD featurette "There's Something About Mary", it was while filming this serial that she made her final decision to leave the series.
  • Twenty-three minutes into transmission of part five, a technical fault on the playback equipment – which occurred at the point where the Doctor is being escorted to the TARDIS by the Mute and the Shadow makes to remove his control device from Princess Astra, saying "Now, Princess, your work is done. Your dest-" – resulted in the programme going off the air for twenty seconds. BBC continuity apologised to viewers for the breakdown in transmission, displaying a TEMPORARY FAULT caption slide and playing music, "Gotcha" by Tom Scott (better known as the theme music to Starsky and Hutch), until the fault was rectified. When transmission was restarted, the 625 line PAL colour videotape had been slightly rewound so that there was a repeat of the action immediately prior to the break, with the Shadow's line finally completed as "Your destiny is at hand."
  • Pat Gorman (Pilot) is uncredited on-screen for part six, but credited in Radio Times.
  • Stephen Calcutt (Mute) is uncredited on-screen for parts five and six, but credited in Radio Times. His character is referred to as 'Super Mute' in existing BBC documentation for the story.
  • It was on the set of The Armageddon Factor that Tom Baker was very angry with some scripts. However, Michael Hayes got along with Baker.

Outtakes and gag reel footage Edit

Several clips of scene performances not intended for broadcast have been circulated from this serial, including two sequences videotaped during rehearsal (Mary Tamm is seen wearing glasses and hair-curlers). In one scene, Tamm and Baker jokingly pretend to move in for a kiss after delivering a line, and in another widely circulated clip, the Doctor replies to a negative comment from K9, "You never f****** know the answer when it's important!" Producers laughed at both of these outtakes.

It was also during production of The Armageddon Factor that Baker, Tamm and John Leeson filmed a brief one-minute gag scene dubbed "Doug Who?" for the BBC staff Christmas party. The scene begins with the Doctor and Romana sitting on the floor by the TARDIS console, apparently kissing off screen, and then acting tipsy as they share a bottle of vodka with K9, who is asked to sing a few bars of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". The Doctor then asks K9 what he wants for Christmas; K9 replies and then asks the Doctor for what his desire is, to which the Doctor looks into the camera and then leers at Romana, who leers back before the two actors and the crew break into laughter.

To date, the rehearsal outtakes have not been commercially released, though they are widely available on video-posting websites. "Doug Who?", retitled "Merry Christmas Doctor Who", is included as a bonus feature in the expanded Key to Time DVD set released in 2007 in the UK and 2009 in Region 1.

Ratings Edit

  • Part one - 7.5 million viewers
  • Part two - 8.8 million viewers
  • Part three - 7.8 million viewers
  • Part four - 8.6 million viewers
  • Part five - 8.6 million viewers
  • Part six - 9.6 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • Theta Sigma is the Doctor's real name. It's implied here and further established in TV: The Happiness Patrol that this is a nickname.
  • The outtake in which Tom Baker barks at K9 "You never f***ing know the answer when it's important" is sometimes described as an outtake from actual filming, and sometimes is used as an illustration of Baker's temperament on the set. In reality — as revealed from an actual viewing of the clip — it was simply a joke that occurred during a taped rehearsal (as evidenced by the fact Mary Tamm is not in full costume, is wearing her off-screen glasses and has her hair up in rollers).
  • Similarly, the rumour that Baker and Tamm filmed an unbroadcast kissing scene also stems from the existence of another rehearsal gag take, as well as the infamous "Doug Who?" skit (described above). Nothing of this sort was filmed for TV broadcast, nor was "Doug Who?" ever intended as part of the televised story either.
  • A longstanding myth holds that Mary Tamm revealed to the production team that she was pregnant and this led to her resignation during or after production of Armageddon Factor. This is openly contradicted by Tamm in interviews and the 2007/09 DVD featurette "There's Something About Mary" in which she states she chose to leave because she was no longer satisfied with the character of Romana and would have returned to film a regeneration if she'd been invited.

Filming locations Edit

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 part two, after the TARDIS has left, it can still be seen behind Romana just after K9 starts blasting a door.
  • In part three, Shapp's gun falls apart when it hits the floor.
  • In part four, when K9 exits the transmat, he's got the new left panel he gains in part five.
  • In part six, Astra regains the circlet Merak had used to distract the Mute.
  • In part six, one of the Mutes kicks up a piece of studio carpet.
  • A number of shots call for the Shadow to lean his head back (when laughing manically or exulting triumphantly). These shots have the unfortunate side-effect of exposing William Squire's real nostrils and making the mask — with its moulded skull-like nose — look blatantly fake.

Continuity Edit

DVD and Video releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

  • It was also released with same stories as Doctor Who: The Key to Time, an extras-laden box set limited to 15,000 in its initial UK release on 24 September 2007, later followed by wide release in Region 1 on 3 March 2009 as The Key to Time - Special Edition. In the 2009 version, The Armageddon Factor is presented over two discs, with the six episodes and minimal extras on disc one and the remaining extras on disc two.

Contents (2009 version):

Disc one:

Disc two:

  • Defining Shadows - featurette on the production of the serial, featuring interviews with Bob Baker, Dave Martin, Richard McManan-Smith, Lalla Ward, David Harries, Barry Jackson.
  • Directing Who - retrospective on Michael Hayes' work directing the serials The Pirate Planet, The Armageddon Factor and City of Death.
  • Rogue Time Lords - featurette on various errant Time Lords featured throughout the series.
  • Pebble Mill at One interview with Tom Baker promoting the broadcast of the 500th episode of Doctor Who, Armageddon Factor part 1.
  • Pebble Mill at One featurette on Dick Mills and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, featuring the creation of sound effects for The Armageddon Factor.
  • The New Sound of Music - a brief look at Dick Mills creating a sound effect for Doctor Who.
  • Merry Christmas Doctor Who - an infamous skit filmed for BBC staff viewing only in which the Doctor and Romana get a little tipsy while celebrating the season and get K9 to sing a holiday song.
  • Alternative/deleted scene from the serial.
  • BBC continuity announcements played before and after each episode of the serial.
  • Photo Gallery
  • Bonus series: Five episodes of Late Night Story, a never-shown series from 1978 featuring Tom Baker performing dramatic readings of "The Photograph" by Nigel Kneale, "The Emissary" by Ray Bradbury, "Nursery Tea" by Mary Danby, "The End of the Party" by Graham Greene, and "Sredni Vashtar" by Saki.
  • Easter egg: On disc two, click right on continuities to find this Easter Egg. On 17 February 1979, as 8.6 million watched Part Five of The Armageddon Factor near its climax…a break in transmission which lasted several minutes. Presumably derived from an off-air video recording, this is a presumably cut-down (1:26) reproduction of it, complete with apologetic continuity announcer and temporary music.

Notes:

The Key to Time boxed set covers Edit

Video releases Edit

External links Edit

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