The Curse of Peladon was the second serial of season 9 of Doctor Who. It was written by Brian Hayles, directed by Lennie Mayne and featured Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant.
The serial features David Troughton, the son of former Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, as the principal guest star. This was his third appearance in the programme, following two supporting roles made in earlier serials alongside his father. He reappeared three decades later in Midnight playing a different, older character, Professor Hobbes.
From a production standpoint, Curse switched broadcast order with the previously-produced Sea Devils. This made it the first Doctor Who story broadcast in a different order to that in which it was made. Though a common enough occurrence in the years that followed, it had been impossible to broadcast out of production order in the 1960s due to the narrow interval between the recording and broadcasting of the episodes (which often aired as little as two weeks after the studio recording date).
The Doctor and Jo make a test flight in the TARDIS and arrive on the planet Peladon. Seeking shelter, they enter the citadel of the soon-to-be-crowned King Peladon, where the Doctor is mistaken for a human dignitary summoned to act as chairman of a committee assessing an application by the planet to join the Galactic Federation.
It is a rainy night on Peladon. The rain beats against the King's castle walls, perched high atop a mountain. Torbis, the King's Chancellor, enters the throne room to tell the King that the delegate from Alpha Centauri has arrived but they still await the delegate from Earth. Hepesh, the King's High Priest and Torbis' brother, is unsure that the delegation should even take place whereas Torbis is very much in support. Hepesh talks of the curse of Aggedor. The King stops the two from arguing. Torbis reminds the King that he has raised him since his father died and wouldn't put him wrong. Hepesh tries to interject but the King says that he agrees with Torbis and that Peladon should join the Galactic Federation. Hepesh gives in. Torbis heads off to tell the other delegates of the arrival of the delegate from Alpha Centauri. As he heads off a gigantic beast roars and he is knocked to the floor. Guards from the throne room rushes to his aid. The monster returns and they hide. By the time the King arrives Torbis is dead. The King asks a guard who did this and he points to a statue on the wall. Hepesh says it is the spirit of Aggedor, the ancient curse of Peladon.
The TARDIS lands on the edge of the mountain. Inside, the Doctor congratulates himself on a perfect landing to the first test flight after he has got the TARDIS working. Jo is complaining as he promised to get her back in time for a night out with Yates. Before he allows her to leave he says he will check the scanners. They do not work. The Doctor checks the equipment. Jo asks if he is sure they are back at base. The Doctor says that the atmosphere, temperature and gravity are all correct. The TARDIS judders. They discover they are on the edge of a cliff. The Doctor skirts along a narrow ledge and then helps Jo leap out. As soon as she does the TARDIS falls off the ledge and plummets down the mountain. The Doctor reassures Jo that the TARDIS is indestructible it is just a question of how to get to it. They cannot go down so they decide to start climbing up the mountain.
The delegate from Alpha Centauri, an alien creature with one big eye and many arms, presents himself to the King, wishful of a happy alliance. The King informs it that they are just waiting on the delegate from Earth. Hepesh mentions the death of Torbis to the King and this spooks the delegate from Alpha Centauri. The King placates it.
The Doctor and Jo reach a ledge but Jo can go no further. They decide to traverse along the ledge in different directions to see what they can find. Soon Jo calls out. The Doctor turns but cannot see her. She pops her head out of a tunnel that she has found.
Hepesh shows the delegate from Alpha Centauri into the delegation room where he is met by the delegate from Arcturus, a small green head in a dome which is attached to a computer. The delegate from Alpha Centauri tells his Arcturian counterpart of the death of Torbis which causes him to react with great concern. The delegate from Alpha Centauri is scared but his Arcturian colleague is more angry. He blows up a jar and tells Hepesh that a similar fate befalls anyone who threatens the delegation.
In the tunnel system, the Doctor and Jo come across a shrine. The Doctor says he has not seen anything like it before on Earth.
Hepesh and the King talk about times of old and Torbis. It is revealed that the King is half Peladonian and half human. Hepesh seems scathing of Earth. Hepesh believes that Torbis was killed by Aggedor. The King seems confused as to why he was not killed if Aggedor rose due to the threat of joining the Galactic Federation. Hepesh says it is a sign but the King is still steadfast. Hepesh considers the delegates to be forming a trap because they despise Peladon and think of its people as distrustful savages. The King asks Hepesh to summon the delegates to prove them otherwise.
The Doctor and Jo find themselves with a number of different tunnels to go down. They hear a roar and decide to go another way. It is blocked but the Doctor's attention is drawn towards a torch. If this is an abandoned tunnel system how is the torch still alight? He pulls it and a door swings open. Going through, they find themselves in the castle. They hear something coming and hide. An Ice Warrior shuffles past. Once it has gone, the Doctor tells Jo of the danger of the Ice Warriors and they decide to head back into the tunnel but they are soon surrounded by guards.
The King tells the delegates of Torbis' death. They are all spooked. The King mentions the curse and tries to brush it away. The Ice Warrior delegate wishes to hear of the curse. Hepesh tells of the beast of Peladon - an extinct creature that used to be hunted as a rite of passage. Legend has it that the creature would rise again when a stranger would appear that would bring great peril to Peladon. This story is interrupted by the entrance of the Doctor. The Ice Warrior approaches the Doctor menacingly but then assumes that he is the delegate from Earth. The Doctor goes along with this and he is introduced to all the delegates. The delegate from Arcturus accuses the Doctor of being late. The Doctor explains he spaceship crash landed and enquiries if there is any way of getting it back. Hepesh says he will arrange something and then asks for the Doctor's credentials. The Doctor says they were lost in the crash. The King is not interested in credentials but seems very taken with Jo. Hepesh asks whether Jo is of Royal blood as only royalty or delegates from planets are allowed in the throne room on punishment by death. Jo takes on the role of a member of the royal family and the Doctor plays along, introducing her as Princess Josephine of TARDIS.
Outside the throne room, a guard climbs above the door.
The Ice Warrior asks what powers Jo has on the committee of assessment and the Doctor says she is just a royal observer. The delegate from Alpha Centauri tells the Doctor of Torbis' death.
As the delegates argue, the guard is creating a lever underneath a large statue outside the throne room.
The Doctor orders the squabbling to cease and Hepesh agrees. They decide to all go to the delegation room. As they all leave, the King flirts with Jo. Filing down the corridor, the Doctor sees the statue falling and heading directly for the delegate from Alpha Centauri.
The Doctor leaps forward and pushes the delegate from Alpha Centauri out the way.
Inside the throne room, Hepesh stops the King from going to help.
The guard sneaks off.
The delegate from Alpha Centauri is very concerned about the accident but the chief Ice Warrior, Izlyr, thanks the Doctor. Hepesh says it was Aggedor that saved them. The Doctor says the incident needs to be investigated. Hepesh says no investigation need take place as it is just the wrath of Aggedor. The delegate from Alpha Centauri is very upset that they came to help the people of Peladon and their lives are being put at risk. Izlyr asks for more information from Hepesh about Aggedor. Hepesh says that it is foretold that when Aggedor returns he will bring terror and darkness and death will walk with him. Izlyr says that if Hepesh speaks for the King then there is no point in holding the delegation. The delegate from Arcturus agrees. The King enters and refuses to cancel the delegation and brings all the delegates back into the throne room. The King says that all the delegates come from areas that used to be wracked with war and he wants Peladon to follow in their path. Jo sneaks off while the delegates talk. The Doctor says that the delegates have a simple choice; side with the King or with Aggedor.
Jo has snuck up to the balcony where the statue was. She finds footprints and an item on the floor.
The delegate from Arcturus makes the Doctor chair of the delegates and says he must decide. The Doctor says the delegation should continue. Izlyr says this puts them all at risk. The King tries to persuade him that isn't the case. The delegate from Alpha Centauri is worried they may be kept there by force. Izlyr gets angry at the thought of this and tempers start to fray. Jo sneaks in within this disagreement. The King begs the delegates to stay and help his people. The delegates say they will adjourn and reach a decision. All the delegates leave but the King asks Jo to stay and dismisses Hepesh. When alone, the King asks Jo if she believes him on a personal level. Jo doesn't answer. The King says that he is lonely. Jo points out that he has Hepesh. The King says he wants younger friends and says that Jo must understand that as a member of the royal family that has to be friends with an old man like the Doctor. He tells Jo that they have a bond and says that she is beautiful. He asks again if she believes him. She says she does. He asks her to speak for him at the commission. Jo becomes cross saying that he wasn't looking for a friend but a political ally. She angrily refuses and says she will remain neutral.
Hepesh and the mute guard, Grun, are worshipping at a shrine. Hepesh tells Grun it was not his fault that he failed to deal with the delegates but says that they need to destroy the King's enemies, starting with the Doctor. He sends Grun to destroy him.
The Doctor examines what Jo found on the balcony. It is an electronic key made of trisilicate used for operating Ice Warrior spaceships. The Doctor says the footprints must have been that of Izlyr. Jo says he thought Izlyr was in the throne room with them the whole time but the Doctor said he could have slipped away like she did. The Doctor says that the last time he encountered the Ice Warriors they were trying to colonise Earth and Peladon is a very Earth-like planet. He also says that the Ice Warriors are very savage, war-like and strong enough to topple a statue. Jo is unsure. The Doctor points out that it could hardly have been the other two delegates and starts to wonder what their motive might be. Jo asks why she and the Doctor can't just leave. The Doctor says they need to stay now. Jo teases him and says that he can't help but get involved. He says that sometimes he has no choice. Jo says he loves it. They are interrupted by the sound of an alarm.
The alarm is attached to the delegate from Arcturus who is in a state of distress. The Doctor examines him and sees that his life support system has been removed. Jo asks what it looks like and, when the Doctor says it is a small box with a number of circuits in it, she begins to look for it. She asks the Doctor if she can search the delegates room as whoever has it will incriminate themselves. The Doctor blocks this saying it is too dangerous. As the Doctor tries to rectify the situation, the other delegates enter and think he is hurting the delegate from Arcturus. The Doctor manages to rectify the situation. Hepesh says this must have been done by Aggedor. The Doctor says Aggedor would not have had the technical skills to do this and, while looking at Izlyr, says whoever did it must come from a technologically advanced race. Izlyr rejects the accusation and says that both Alpha Centauri and Earth have the technological capabilities to do it and suggests that they found the Doctor with him.
Jo sneaks into the Ice Warriors' room and searches for the delegate for Arcturus' life support system. She finds it in a crate but hears someone coming and hides behind a curtain. Ssong, Izlyr's counterpart, enters and sees Jo's feet under the curtain. He pulls it back and asks what she is doing. Jo says she was looking for the life support and found it. Ssong says that it is not theirs. Ssong goes to show Izlyr and locks Jo in the room.
The delegate for Arcturus says he was attacked but his memory circuits have been effected and can't remember by who. The Doctor tells Izlyr that that is very lucky for him and leaves the room. He encounters Grun in the corridor who urgently forces him away. This is watched by Hepesh.
The delegates discuss what happened to the delegate from Arcturus. Izlyr says he suspects it was the Doctor. The delegate from Alpha Centauri asks what motive he would have. Izlyr says he may be trying to form an alliance between Jo and the King to create a strong Earth-Pelodonian link which will dominate the Galactic Federation. The delegate from Arcturus says that this cannot be allowed. Ssong enters and asks to see Izlyr. The other two delegates discuss their worries. Izlyr returns and tells the delegates that Jo was found with the life support.
Jo is waiting for the return of the Ice Warriors. She notices a high window and pulls a table and a box over and escapes out the window into the stormy night. She skirts along the ledge with rocks falling underneath her feet and re-enters through the next window and finds herself in a corridor.
Grun gestures that the Doctor should enter a door. The Doctor asks if someone is in trouble. Grun says yes and the Doctor rushes in.
Jo is lost in the corridors. She sees a terrifying monster and runs away.
The Doctor and Grun are in the cave system. They hear a roar. Grun gets scared and runs off. The Doctor goes after him and but turns back to find out what danger there might be in the tunnel.
Jo runs into Izlyr. She is terrified of Aggedor. Ssong goes to look and finds nothing. Izlyr says this is all part of the trick. Jo says she must find the Doctor. Izlyr says that they also seek the Doctor.
The Doctor rushes deeper into the cave system.
Jo is led back to the Ice Warriors' room. Izlyr asks why she escaped and she says she was frightened. Izlyr asks if she really saw Aggedor and she says she did. Izlyr still thinks it is a trick. Jo says that they tried to kill the delegate from Arcturus. Izlyr says it wasn't them but also say that the removal of the life support wouldn't have killed him just made him very uncomfortable. Jo says that the Doctor told her that their species are Warriors. Izlyr says they used to be but now they reject violence. Jo asks why they have a gun. Izlyr says that in order to sue for peace you must survive. Jo asks if it wasn't them that harmed the delegate from Arcturus then who was it. Izlyr still thinks it was the Doctor.
The Doctor is rushing through the cave system with Aggedor in pursuit. He reaches a dead end but sees a torch again and pulls it. He emerges into the shrine room. Hepesh finds him and orders Grun to seize him. He says the Doctor is impure and should not desecrate the shrine.
Hepesh has brought the Doctor to the King. He is facing charges of desecrating the temple of Aggedor. The King is apologetic but says the laws of Peladon state that the sentence for this crime is death.
The Doctor tries to explain that he was trying to escape the tunnels and stumbled into the temple, but Peladon is unaware of the tunnels' existence. Jo urges the King to be flexible, given the Doctor's "diplomatic" status, and he agrees to a compromise — trial by combat against Grun in the ceremonial pit. Jo argues with Peladon over his clinging to ridiculous superstitions but is surprised when he proposes to her and asks her to help him change his planet for the better.
Hepesh offers to help the Doctor escape before the combat, drawing him a map. He explains he is afraid of the progress Federation membership may bring, then admits he has a powerful ally assisting him. For their part, the delegates must obey Federation law and not interfere with local customs. However, Izlyr tells Jo that, since the Doctor saved him from the statue, he must do everything in his power to repay the debt. Arcturus listens to this conversation with a bug.
The Doctor escapes into the tunnels. He finds Aggedor and uses a spinning mirror and a Venusian lullaby to hypnotise him. Just as it seems to be working, Jo arrives and frightens the beast away. The Doctor goes back and tries to explain to everyone that Aggedor is an animal trained to attack anything living beneath the citadel, but Hepesh insists that he be taken to the combat pit. There, he faces Grun with halberds and swords and in hand-to-hand combat. After a long struggle, the Doctor is victorious but refuses to kill Grun. Watching from the edge of the pit, Arcturus and Ssorg draw their weapons and fire...
Ssorg is quicker on the trigger and kills Arcturus, who was trying to shoot the Doctor. Hepesh flees, and the others deduce he was in league with Arcturus and sabotaged the life support with his directions. The planet Arcturus is poor in mineral wealth, and he had hoped to arrange a separate mining treaty. Peladon asks the delegates to help him avert a civil war with Hepesh. While they discuss the situation, Grun slips into the tunnels and attacks Hepesh to atone for having been manipulated. Hepesh's guards manage to overpower Grun and leave him for the Doctor to find, whereupon the two put aside their differences and pursue Hepesh.
Jo and the Ice Warriors finally convince Alpha Centauri to bend the rules and support King Peladon, but they find that all their transmitters have been sabotaged and they are cut off from their orbiting spacecraft. Hepesh leads his followers in a revolt, quickly defeating the royal guards and capturing the King. The Doctor and Grun find Aggedor and hypnotise him again. As Hepesh gives the delegates a chance to leave the planet peacefully, the Doctor leads Aggedor into the throne room. He explains that, although they were thought extinct, Hepesh found one Aggedor and trained it to do his bidding. Aggedor attacks and kills Hepesh in a rage after being controlled for so long. Peladon now has no problem ordering the rebels to lay down their arms.
Although the TARDIS has been dragged up from the valley below, the Doctor and Jo decide to stay for Peladon's coronation.
The Doctor reminisces about other coronations he has witnessed and speculates that their journey to Peladon was no accident, but a contrivance by the Time Lords to have the Doctor deal with this crisis — he didn't get the TARDIS working after all. Aggedor then wanders in to see the Doctor; he has become rather fond of the Time Lord. The Doctor leads Aggedor off to his enclosure as Peladon comes in to ask Jo for an answer to his proposal. She tells him that she can't marry him and she is not really a princess. Peladon says that he never cared about her rank but accepts her decision.
As the Doctor and Jo head to the throne room, they encounter an embarrassing visitor — Amazonia, the real Earth delegate, delayed and indignant. They decide to slip away and watch some other coronation instead. As Amazonia, Ssorg and Izlyr come into the room where the TARDIS is stored, they see it dematerialise; Amazonia is left gaping and speechless.
- Dr. Who - Jon Pertwee
- Jo Grant - Katy Manning
- Peladon - David Troughton
- Hepesh - Geoffrey Toone
- Torbis - Henry Gilbert
- Izlyr - Alan Bennion
- Ssorg - Sonny Caldinez
- Alpha Centauri - Stuart Fell
- Voice of Alpha Centauri - Ysanne Churchman
- Arcturus - Murphy Grumbar
- Voice of Arcturus - Terry Bale
- Grun - Gordon St. Clair
- Aggedor - Nick Hobbs
- Guard Captain - George Giles
- Amazonia - Wendy Danvers
- Guards - Chris Webb, Royston Farrell, Billy Dean, Derek Chafer, Stewart Barry, Mike Stevens (DWM 215)
- Stunt Guards - Rocky Taylor, Dinny Powell, Roy Street, Peter Brace, Mike Horsburgh, Bill Horrigan (DWM 215)
- Assistant Floor Manager - Ros Anderson
- Costumes - Barbara Lane
- Designer - Gloria Clayton
- Fight Arranger - Terry Walsh, PROFILE
- Film Cameraman - Fred Hamilton, Peter Sargent
- Film Editor - Michael Sha-Dyan
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Make-Up - Sylvia James
- Producer - Barry Letts
- Production Assistant - Chris D'Oyly-John
- Script Editor - Terrance Dicks
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - Howard King
- Studio Sound - Tony Millier
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - Bernard Wilkie, Ian Scoones
to be added
- Working titles for this story included The Curse[source needed] and Curse of the Peladons.
- Ysanne Churchman (Voice of Alpha Centauri) is credited as "Voice" in Radio Times for episodes one, three and four.
- Murphy Grumbar (Arcturus) and Terry Bale (Voice of Arcturus) were credited in error in Radio Times for episode four; Arcturus is killed in the opening seconds of the episode (and the convention was not to give a screen credit to an actor if he appeared only in the reprise).
- Jon Pertwee sings the Venusian Lullaby to the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".
- This story was an allegory of the UK's accession to the Common Market — a highly topical issue at the time of the original transmission.
- This story also exists in the BBC archives as 2 x 50 minute compiled episodes broadcast as part of the Doctor Who and the Monsters repeat season in 1982 (comprising the complete serial except for two sets of opening and closing credits, but in a poor condition: copied from a set of highly degraded NTSC 525-line tapes returned from Canada, that were literally falling to pieces, and then reconverted to PAL 625-line video without proper reverse-standards conversion).
- There are four sequels: the television serial The Monster of Peladon (which is a direct sequel to this serial), the audio play The Prisoner of Peladon (which is a sequel to both televised serials), the audio story The Bride of Peladon (which follows chronologically from Prisoner of Peladon), and the novel Legacy (which follows on from all chronologically).
- Episode one - 10.3 million viewers
- Episode two - 11 million viewers
- Episode three - 7.8 million viewers
- Episode four - 8.4 million viewers
- According to Barry Letts and Katy Manning, the precipitous drop in ratings between episodes two and three had to do with national power cuts resulting from a coal miners' strike. The BBC tried to compensate for the loss in viewers by ordering a special recap of episode three broadcast before the debut of episode four. (BBC DVD: The Curse of Peladon)
- The natives of the planet Peladon are called Pels. (They are not called by that name in this serial. The myth presumably originates from the fact that the term is used by scriptwriter Brian Hayles in his 1974 novelisation of the serial.)
- Izlyr is an Ice Lord. (Although he is referred to as 'Lord Izlyr', the term 'Ice Lord' is never used. Even in his 1974 novelisation of the serial, scriptwriter Brian Hayles never uses the term; other characters invariably address Izlyr as 'Lord Izlyr' or 'my Lord', while the author refers to him either by his name or as 'the warlord'.)
- Peladon is rich in trisilicate. (Although this is a key element of the plot in the 1974 sequel, The Monster of Peladon, the Doctor firmly establishes in the 1972 serial that trisilicate can only be found on the planet Mars.)
- The Doctor has repaired the TARDIS and is now free to resume his travels in time and space. (In fact, at the end of Episode 4 the Doctor and Jo discuss the unlikely co-incidence of the TARDIS bringing them to this crucial point in the planet's history by chance, and realise that they have been used as pawns by the Time Lords.)
- Jo's hair straightens when she climbs back into the citadel.
- The 'corpse' of High Priest Hepesh is visibly breathing.
- When the TARDIS falls from the mountain ledge, aside from the obvious fact of its being a model shot, there is no sign of the Doctor or Jo.
- The actor's hair can be seen sticking out from under Ssorg's helmet.
- When Jo is escaping the Ice Warriors' room and climbing by the side of the mountain, her shoes change slightly. The shot looking down the mountain has her wearing pink shoes with straps, yet everywhere else Jo is wearing strapless pink shoes.
- The Ice Warriors had previously appeared in TV: The Ice Warriors and TV: The Seeds of Death (in both cases as the antagonists), and they reappeared in TV: The Monster of Peladon, TV: Cold War and TV: Empress of Mars.
- The Doctor earlier sang his Venusian Lullaby in TV: The Dæmons. PROSE: Venusian Lullaby would be named after this song; the melody of the song is that of the Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen".
- PROSE: The Face of the Enemy occurs contemporaneously with the events of this story, relatively speaking.
- The Doctor was already aware that the TARDIS would fall off a cliff on Peladon at some point in his personal future, as the renegade Time Lady Iris Wildthyme told him as much. On that occasion, he informed Iris that this event had not happened yet in his personal timeline. (PROSE: Verdigris)
- The Doctor has impersonated an official from Earth before. (TV: The Power of the Daleks, The Enemy of the World)
Home video and audio releases
- This story was first released on DVD in the UK on 4 January 2010 as part of the Peladon Tales Boxset. The one disc set includes a restored version of the story, as well as the following special features:
- Commentary by Katy Manning (Jo), Barry Letts (Producer), Terrance Dicks (Script Editor), Chris D'Oyly-John (Production Assistant) and Toby Hadoke (Moderator).
- The Peladon Saga Part One - BBC documentary looking at the making of The Curse of Peladon
- Warriors of Mars - BBC documentary on the history of the Ice Warriors.
- Jon and Katy - BBC feature on the pairing of the Third Doctor and Jo Grant.
- Storyboard Comparison
- Coming Soon Trailer
- Radio Times Billings
- Production Subtitles
- Photo Gallery
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
This story is available:
This story was released as Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon.
The story was also recorded and released on both cassette and CD.
- The Curse of Peladon at the BBC's official site
- The Curse of Peladon at BroaDWcast
- The Curse of Peladon at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Tardis Library: Video release information for The Curse of Peladon