The Green Death was the fifth and final serial of season 10 of Doctor Who. It was written by Robert Sloman, directed by Michael Briant and featured Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant.
It was the final regular appearance of Katy Manning as Jo Grant, who departed the Doctor's company in the closing scene of episode six.
It also bore witness to a series of traumatic events for Captain Mike Yates and made him doubt his faith in humanity, which deeply upset him. His inability to deal with his doubts later led him to a path of rebellion.
A death at an abandoned coal pit brings UNIT and the Third Doctor to the South Wales town of Llanfairfach when the body is found glowing bright green. Are pollutants from Global Chemicals responsible? Where are the giant maggots coming from? And who is the mysterious BOSS?
In the Glamorgan county Llanfairfach, a colliery remains inactive after the post-industrial closure of its mining operations. A miner visits one of the underground roadways for inspection. He is scared by a green substance which has infected him during his stay beneath the surface, and he darts for the lift. Meanwhile, a Range Rover arrives at a crowd of deposed workers formerly employed at the mining facility. A man steps out and addresses several miners. His company is introducing a new process that will greatly expedite their production of oil after the National Coal Board had to close down the pit because of coal's dwindling industrial promises. The workers cheer vigourously but are met with the sickened remarks from a band of protesters. One of them is a prolific troublemaker in these parts — Professor Clifford Jones, who believes the men are being exploited for their manpower. The workers are far from rapport[statement unclear] toward his unpleasant words and start jeering at him to shut up. Instead, all voices are unanimously silenced by the sound of a warning whistle bellowing without stop. The miners know this means there is trouble at the pit, rushing off where an emergency awaits. The same mining worker has emerged from the shafts, collapsed dead with his hand wrenched firmly on the valve to blow the whistle. His flesh has been contaminated by a phosphorescent green substance.
The Welsh mining village of Llanfairfach is of little interest to the Third Doctor, who would rather take a challenging visit to the blue planet of Metebelis III than a trip to South Wales. However, Jo Grant reads a startling newspaper article about a corporate facility that is gearing up to cause a huge amount of pollution. She is keen to go to the village to meet the acclaimed environmentalist and Nobel Prize winner Professor Clifford Jones.
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart arrives and tries to assign a murder investigation mission to the Doctor and Jo, but the Doctor firmly tells him no repeatedly, as he wants to be off to Metebelis III. Jo pleads her case with the Brigadier over the events she wants to deal with firsthand, but Jo is not impressed with the Brigadier's siding with the corporate giant. She passionately protests that she would even quit UNIT if it interfered with her ability to go there firsthand. Luckily, Lethbridge-Stewart's mission was to visit the facility — he is intrigued enough by the death of a bright green miner to drive her down. The miner was found in a disused mine, and the main source of employment in the village is now the Global Chemicals petroleum factory. Its boss, Stevens, promises prosperity for all, but Professor Jones and the other environmentalists at his "Nuthutch" are unconvinced. In light of the protests, Stevens accepts the Brigadier's offer of additional security at his factory.
Stevens, however, is told by a voice that "nobody must go down the mine" and zones out, muttering these words to himself when he speaks to his employee Hinks. When Hinks leaves his office, Stevens unsheathes a pair of large headphones and plugs them into a machine. An unusual sound begins whirring into his head.
Jo discovers the Nuthutch, home of the workshop where Professor Jones is engaged in eco-friendly exploits, but is taken aback by a strange fellow who welcomes his guest with eccentricities, micromanagement, and a patronising attitude toward her. Annoyed with this person, she gives him a what-for, causing the man to lighten up and calm Jo down so she stops bumping into things inside an already crowded room. He shows Jo a new type of fungus that Nancy has been developing, Saliota Orbis. It is supposed to be a safe alternative to protein-rich meats. Jo figures out this man is really Professor Jones, and gets on well with him.
Professor Jones detracts the operations Global Chemicals is running, noting that "it's still using up the oil and doubling the atmospheric pollution." He suggests cleaner alternatives that harness the energy with which the sun provides them, such as wind power and water power. Jones explains the Nuthutch has natural heating tapped from the river, through a heat pump working on electricity generated by a windmill. Jo learns the logic behind his use of alternative technology: no waste or pollution.
Jones goes on to hypothesise that Steven's oil manufacturing process "must be based on Bateson's polymerisation, and that means thousands of gallons of waste. Aye, a thick sludge you can't break down in any way, like a liquid plastic. And what properties that would have, heaven alone knows." The professor wants to know what they're doing with that waste, thinking it was possibly connected to Hughes' death. Jo figures Global Chemicals could be pumping the waste down the old mine workings and suggests the two of them should go explore it. Jones doesn't seem to get the picture, and Jo insists they visit the mine now. Unfortunately, Jones's abrasiveness gets the better of her when he calls her a child and says he has work to do. She storms out of his workshop, slamming the door on her way out.
Unbeknownst to the Doctor and Lethbridge-Stewart, Jo decides to venture down to the mine by herself, accompanied by a friendly miner called Bert. The Brigadier still arrives to investigate the death, suspicious about Elgin's testimonial regarding their outstandingly clean and efficient oil production. He begins to grow weary after patching several calls to UNIT headquarters with no reply. The Doctor has weathered a violent excursion on Metebilis III and returns in his TARDIS with a torn jacket and dirt on his face. He finally answers the call after being derelict and rushes to Global Chemicals in Bessie, suited up in new clothes.
Once the Brigadier has explained the situation to his colleague, the Doctor orders that no one should go down the mine until he has personally inspected it. However, Jo has already gone down with Bert to aid another miner with her first aid skills. The man who went down before them was Dai Evans, wanting to figure out what killed the miner who died pulling the emergency whistle for the shaft and was found glowing green. Now, he is starting to glow in the same way and has called for help.
The Brigadier and Doctor notice the mine shaft lowering mechanisms spinning from outside and bolt into the facility to stop the descent, upset that it's Jo who has gone down before him. Even when the Doctor demands that Dave, the shaft operator, raises Jo and Bert back up, Dave can't get the brakes to work. One of the Global Chemicals employees cuts the lift cable and they plummet towards the bottom of the mineshaft...
The Doctor reaches Llanfairfach with a blue crystal to show for his visit to Metebelis III and jams the lift in the nick of time. Jo and Bert are not harmed, but they are stranded in the mine. There, they find Dai Evans, one of the other miners, glowing bright green and terribly ill. It seems there is some serious pollution at work in the mine, and they head off to find a way out. For anybody to get down to the mine to help them, cutting equipment is needed to cut the cables jamming the lift. Global Chemicals say they don't have any such equipment, but a staff member, Elgin, knows this is not true. When Jones hears about Jo's predicament, he comes to the mine to help.
The Doctor sneaks into Global Chemicals to steal the equipment, but he is caught. One guard sees him as a bit old for a threat, but the Doctor jests, "I'm quite spry for my age, actually." It doesn't take him much effort to knock the guns out of his hands and properly throw several guards to the ground with his Venusian aikido, not fazed by their use of a baton. He takes the upper hand until four more arrive, this time armed with rifles, and fence him in. Fortunately, Stevens chooses to overlook the incident. By chance, the Brigadier finds somebody with cutting equipment in a garage, allowing the Doctor and a few mine workers to go down into the mine shaft. Things get worse when Bert finds a slick of green slime and touches it. He too seems to contract "the green death". By the time the Doctor finds Dai, the miner is dead, and the Time Lord becomes very worried for Jo's safety. Increasingly ill, Bert waits behind while Jo looks for a way out alone. The Doctor catches up with Bert and finds Jo near a vast lake of green slime filled with giant maggots. When they try to go back, the tunnel caves in and more maggots emerge from the rubble.
The Doctor and Jo are trapped between a cave-in and the pool of maggots. They escape by wheeling a mine cart through the maggots, but they are still trapped in the mine.
Back at Global Chemicals, Stevens is behaving very curiously. He is using strange headphones to listen to calming messages, and when one of his employees, Ralph Fell, looks helpful to the environmentalists, he is somehow reconditioned with the same headphones and shortly afterward kills himself. Elgin saves the Doctor and Jo from drowning in the green slime when he helps them out of a shaft that links the mine and the factory complex — proving the link between the two. The Brigadier's plan to investigate Global Chemicals further is cut short when he is ordered by the Prime Minister himself to let Stevens get on with it. Stevens evidently enjoys Cabinet support for his factory and its new plastic production process.
The Doctor, Jo and the Brigadier end the day with a nourishing meal of fungus at the Nuthutch, but the frivolity is cut short when they hear Bert too has died. As the Doctor leaves, a maggot egg he brought back from the mine hatches, and the maggot inside creeps up on Jo, the girl none the wiser.
The maggot kills Hinks, who had come to destroy the egg, and escapes before any analysis can be made of it, leaving the Doctor and Jones to analyse the trail of green slime it left behind.
The Brigadier receives orders to seal the mine with explosives and clear the area using UNIT troops. The Doctor realises that this will only make the situation worse, but his plea to Stevens to allow an investigation is ignored. As the Doctor expected, the maggots simply burrow through and are now a threat above ground. Not to be intimidated by Stevens, the Brigadier sends Captain Yates into Global Chemicals, undercover as a Ministry official.
The Doctor dons some improbable disguises, including a milkman and a cleaning lady, to get through the gates and move freely. Meanwhile, Jo has alienated Cliff, with whom she is falling in love, by ruining one of his slides. Determined to make amends, she heads to the sealed mine in search of a maggot to run some tests on. Having liaised with Yates, the Doctor learns that Stevens takes his instructions from the top floor of the complex, and heads there to find out who is in charge. The BOSS, or Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor, turns out to be a supercomputer with its own megalomaniacal personality.
The Doctor speaks with BOSS and finds out that it runs the company, controls Stevens and other key staff members, and is responsible for the polluting chemical process. The Doctor employs the liar paradox, a conundrum which will keep BOSS busy trying to find a solution, while he escapes. Unfortunately, he runs into Stevens and some guards before he can do so. He rejects the brain-washing technique that Stevens subjects him to, but Mike Yates is more susceptible and is converted into one of the computer's slaves.
After the Doctor escapes, Mike is sent to the Nutchutch to kill the Doctor. His conditioning is deep and only broken by the Doctor's use of the blue crystal he brought from Metebelis 3. Meanwhile, Jones has worked out that the fungus Jo spilt on the slides is actually a curative and then sets off to stop her, but they are both caught in an RAF bombing raid intended to kill the maggots. Cliff is also infected with a maggot and begins to turn green — before he was able to share his knowledge of the cure. In a delirious state, he utters the word "serendipity". Yates re-enters Global Chemicals, pretending to still be under BOSS's control, but he is caught by Stevens, who tells him he just can't depend on anyone.
Sergeant Benton brings an empty maggot chrysalis to the Nuthatch, revealing that the maggots are about to change into something else. The Doctor discovers that another maggot had died after eating Cliff's fungus, meaning that it is deadly to them. The Doctor and Benton drive around the slag heaps and the mine, liberally scattering the fungus which kills all the maggots, and disposing of a deadly giant fly which attacks them. Returning to the Nuthatch, the Doctor discovers Cliff's cure and uses it to restore him to full health. The Doctor then returns to Global Chemicals to confront BOSS. The computer plans to link up with others and effect a corporate takeover of the human race. However, Stevens, whose conditioning is partially broken by the Doctor using the crystal, tells him to get out while he triggers an explosion which destroys himself, the computer, and the company headquarters.
The menace defeated, UNIT troops and environmentalists gather at the Nuthutch for a celebration made all the more special when Jo and Cliff announce they are getting married and then plan to travel the Amazon looking for a rare fungus, and that the United Nations (after Jo contacted her uncle) have decided to fund Wholeweal's research: jobs will return to Llanfairfach after all. The Doctor offers his blessing to the couple and gives Jo the blue crystal as a present, asking them to save him some wedding cake. However, as the party starts to get into full swing the Doctor quietly slips away, noticed only by Jo, who understands why.
The Doctor, upset by the departure of his good friend, gets into Bessie and, after one final look back at the cottage, sadly drives away. Jo and Cliff kiss, enjoying a tender embrace, while the heartbroken Doctor drives off into the sunset.
- Dr. Who - Jon Pertwee
- Jo Grant - Katy Manning
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
- Sergeant Benton - John Levene
- Captain Mike Yates - Richard Franklin
- Cliff Jones - Stewart Bevan
- Stevens - Jerome Willis
- Elgin - Tony Adams
- Hinks - Ben Howard
- Dai Evans - Mostyn Evans
- Dave - Talfryn Thomas
- Bert - Roy Evans
- Nancy - Mitzi McKenzie
- Milkman - Ray Handy
- Hughes - John Scott Martin
- Fell - John Rolfe
- Voice of BOSS - John Dearth
- Minister of Ecology - Richard Beale
- Cleaner - Jean Burgess
- Yates' Guard - Brian Justice
- Guard - Terry Walsh
- James - Roy Skelton
- Stuntman/ Security Guards - Billie Horrigan, Alan Chuntz (credited in Radio Times for episode two)
- Wholewealers- Alison Daumler, Keith Norrish, Robert Birmingham, Pat Gorman
- Hilda - Jean Channon
- Jessie - Jessica Stanley-Clarke
- Ministers - Brychan Powell, Evan Ross
- Security Guards - Pat Gorman, Leslie Bates, Dennis Plenty, Steven Ismay
- Villagers - Reg Cranfield, Sonny Willis
- Miners - Frank Seton, David Waterman
- Stevens - Leslie Bates
- Betts - David Billa
- Mechanical Voice/ UNIT Radio Voices - John Dearth (all DWM 320)
- Assistant Floor Manager - Karilyn Collier
- Costumes - Barbara Kidd
- Designer - John Burrowes
- Fight Arranger - Terry Walsh
- Film Cameraman - Bill Matthews, Ken Lowe
- Film Editor - Alastair Mackay
- Film Sound - Simon Wilson
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Make-Up - Ann Rayment
- Producer - Barry Letts
- Production Assistant - John Harris, Michael McDermott
- Script Editor - Terrance Dicks
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - Mike Jefferies
- Studio Sound - Richard Chubb
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects Designer - Ron Oates
- BOSS mentions the composer Wagner and the "Ninth Symphony".
- The National Coal Board of Cardiff authorises permissions to inspect coal mines.
- The Doctor's sonic screwdriver can emit a high frequency noise that stuns creatures with sensitive hearing.
- This is the last story to use the "Pertwee Logo" until the 1996 movie. It was used from then as the default logo for Doctor Who until the programme's return to television in 2005. Variations of this logo continue to be used for merchandise and materials promoting the classic series, as well as for the franchise as a whole during the show's fiftieth year.
- This is the last story to have its individual segments titled as "Episode -". After this story they were titled as "Part -", with the single exception of Destiny of the Daleks.
- This is Katy Manning's final story. However, she reprised her role thirty-seven years later in The Sarah Jane Adventures story Death of the Doctor. In that episode, she shows disappointment that the Doctor is now travelling with a married couple in the TARDIS, saying that she only left the Doctor because she got married, suggesting that she would have continued to travel with the Doctor if he had allowed her to bring Professor Jones.
- Stewart Bevan (Cliff Jones) was Katy Manning's real-life boyfriend at the time of shooting.
- The opening scene of the serial, in which Stevens stands before some miners and brandishes a piece of paper while proclaiming "wealth in our time", is a mimicry of Neville Chamberlain's "peace for our time" speech, regarding the 1938 Munich Agreement.
- During the party to celebrate Jo and Cliff's engagement, during which the Doctor slips away, the music heard in the background is an instrumental track by the Electric Banana, which was an alias for the famed (and infamous) British band the Pretty Things.
- The Brigadier takes a phone call from the Prime Minister, who is never seen fully on-screen and named as "Jeremy". This was a joke by the production team intended to suggest that the Liberal Party, then led by Jeremy Thorpe, could win the next General Election; Thorpe, of course, was never Prime Minister.
- Although credited for episode one, Mitzi McKenzie (Nancy) does not actually appear, as her material was not filmed due to her unavailability at short notice.
- Billie Horrigan and Alan Chuntz (Security Guards) are uncredited on-screen for episode two, but credited in Radio Times.
- Terry Walsh (Guard) is uncredited on-screen for episode two, but credited in Radio Times. He is credited as "Security Guard" in Radio Times for episode four.
- The credit for Brian Justice on episode four incorrectly reads "Yate's Guard", instead of the grammatically correct "Yates's Guard" which appears in Radio Times.
- For episodes two, five and six, the title sequence film over which the closing credits were superimposed was played backwards and upside-down (a result of the film being played backwards through the projector to save time during recording).
- The function (and lines) of Elgin is taken up by James, as played by Roy Skelton, in episode five. Tony Adams, who plays Elgin, was taken ill with peritonitis during production and had to be taken to hospital. The scene had to be hastily rewritten so as not to involve Elgin.
- The Radio Times programme listing for the 90-minute compilation repeat of the story on Thursday 27 December 1973 was accompanied by two black and white photographs with comic strip-style speech balloons: the first was a close-up of the Doctor's face ("THE MAGGOTS ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE!"); and the second was of Cliff and Jo encountering a maggot (with Cliff saying "... COME ON LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!"), which was actually a publicity shot taken as part of a Radio Times photo-shoot for a special publication to celebrate Doctor Who's 10th anniversary and not a deleted scene from the story itself. The accompanying caption read, "The full story of the battle against The Green Death at 4.0. But Dr. Who has survived many trials in his many times. What and when was the first story? It all began in November, 1963, when the first Dr. Who met An Unearthly Child."
- The party scene at the end of episode six marks one of the few times the Doctor is shown consuming what is presumably alcohol on screen. He also drinks Elderberry wine in episode 3, and asks for a bottle to take with him.
- Episode one - 9.2 million viewers
- Episode two - 7.2 million viewers
- Episode three - 7.8 million viewers
- Episode four - 6.8 million viewers
- Episode five - 8.3 million viewers
- Episode six - 7.0 million viewers
- Katy Manning left the series because of the death of Roger Delgado (the Master). Delgado died June 1973 - after Manning's final episode was filmed (April 1973).
- Some of the giant maggots were created from inflated condoms. According to director Michael Briant on the DVD documentary The One With the Maggots, they weren't; they were actually party balloons.
- Ogilvie Colliery, Deri, near Bargoed, Glamorgan
- Troed-y-Rhiw Jestyn, Deri, near Bargoed, Glamorgan
- Colliery Quarry, Deri, near Bargoed, Glamorgan
- RCA International factory, Brynmawr, Powys
- BBC Television Centre (Studio 3), Shepherd's Bush, London
- In episode one, when Dai Evans is on the telephone in the mine office, a hand appears to the bottom right, giving Mostyn Evans his cue to speak.
- In episode five, the Doctor escapes from Global during the day. When Yates is caught it's dark (as seen through the compound's windows), but the next scene, on the slag heap, is in daylight again.
- The CSO used in episode three results in the bottom of the mine cart vanishing.
- When Jo is helping Bert around a corner, she knocks a support strut out of position.
- When Jo sits up in the cable car, her helmet doesn't have a lamp. Switch to the medium shot and it suddenly does.
- When the Doctor picks up the giant fly egg in the mine, it squeaks, revealing it to be a painted balloon.
- When characters look through Professor Jones's microscope, the objective is rotated so that none of the lenses actually point at the slide.
- When Yates breaks James's conditioning, the latter falls against the wall, which visibly shakes.
- When Benton rescues Cliff and Jo, the ground shakes and flexes.
- In the climax, not one but two heavy consoles move as Stevens frantically operates the controls.
- In episode one, Katy Manning accidentally knocks off the triangular crucible holder from the Bunsen burner as she walks through Jones's laboratory, appearing to hit it with the sleeve of her coat unintentionally.
- Certain shots of the TARDIS reveal that it is simply a prop, as the back windows can be faintly seen.
- The Doctor's journey to Metebelis III and taking of the crystal have unexpected consequences. (TV: Planet of the Spiders)
- Years later, Jo is still married to Clifford Jones, having children and grand-children. (TV: Death of the Doctor)
- Jo Grant reappears in PROSE: Genocide, AUDIO: Find and Replace and TV: Death of the Doctor on television.
- BOSS is mentioned in passing in PROSE: Original Sin.
- The Doctor meets a parallel version of Jo Grant (and UNIT) in PROSE: Blood Heat.
- While driving Bessie over to Global Chemicals, the Doctor appears to be using her super drive, as he flies down a road at an alarmingly high speed and easily overtakes a slower vehicle. (TV: The Time Monster)
- The Brigadier and the Minister of Ecology debate about the interpretation of the Third Enabling Act (TV: The Time Monster) to solve the jurisdiction controversy about Global Chemicals.
Home video and audio releases
This story was released as Doctor Who: The Green Death.
- PAL - BBC DVD BBCDVD1142
- NTSC - Warner Video E2156
- Stewart Bevan - An interview with the actor about the story.
- Robert Sloman - An interview with the writer about the writing of the story.
- Global Conspiracy? - A short sketch about what went on in 1973.
- Visual Effects - Colin Mapson talks about the effect in the story and how to build a Giant Maggot.
- Photo Gallery
- Production Subtitles
- Easter Egg
- Commentary: Katy Manning, Barry Letts, and Terrance Dicks
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
As with many pre-2006 releases, The Green Death: Special Edition was released on 5 August 2013.
Doctor Who DVD Files
This story is available:
- in iTunes stores (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, UK and US) as part of the Doctor Who: The Classic Series collection Doctor Who: The Best of The Third Doctor, which additionally includes the stories Spearhead from Space, The Three Doctors and Planet of the Spiders;
- in non-continental iTunes stores (Australia, Canada, UK and US) as a stand-alone season of Doctor Who: The Classic Series;
- on Amazon Video (UK) as Season 69 of Doctor Who (Classic) series;
- for streaming through BritBox (US) as part of Season 10 of Classic Doctor Who.
Released as Doctor Who: The Green Death, the two-cassette video release was rushed out in memory of Jon Pertwee, who had passed away earlier in the year.
- UK August 1996
- PAL - BBC Video BBCV5816
- US April 1997
- NTSC - Warner Video E1349
- The Green Death at the BBC's official site
- The Green Death at BroaDWcast
- The Green Death at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Green Death at The Locations Guide