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Dr Who

 Series 16

Tom as the Doctor
dressed in medieval armour.
Picture © BBC


September 1978

“It’s funny, you know. Before I met you, I was even willing to be impressed.”
Romana to the Doctor, episode 1

The Guardian of Light in Time, a god-like being even mightier than a Time Lord, has a mission for the Doctor. He must find and assemble the six camouflaged segments of the Key to Time, a crystal cube needed by the Guardian to restore balance to the equilibrium of time itself. To assist his quest the Guardian gives the Doctor a locating device to trace each segment, and he is warned not to let any of the segments fall into the hands of the Black Guardian, who would use the Key to unbalance the natural order of things.

The Guardian also assigns the Doctor a new assistant – a recently graduated female Time Lord named Romana. They track the first segment of the Key to Shur, a town on the medieval world of Ribos, where it exists disguised as a lump of Jethrick, an immensely valuable mineral owned, through theft, by two confidence tricksters, Garron (Iain Cuthbertson) and Unstoffe (Nigel Plaskitt).

Garron is using the mineral as a lure to tempt the exiled prince of a warlike race (Paul Seed)  into agreeing the purchase of Ribos for a large sum of money. Garron has persuaded the prince he owns the rights to exploit minerals on Ribos, while feigning ignorance about the true worth of the Jethrick stone – ‘common apparently to Ribos’ – which he has placed on view in the town’s museum.

But when the prince becomes suspicious of the two con-men, he ambushes them, plus the Doctor, Romana and K-9, after he witnesses the pair retrieving the stone from the museum. He and his soldiers chase them through underground catacombs – populated by savage, carnivorous dragons.

The prince and his men meet their doom in these caves, while Garron ultimately loses the Jethrick stone due to some deft pick-pocketing by the Doctor. Using his locator device, the Time Lord transforms the stone into the crystalline shape of the first segment of the Key to Time.

The Pirate Planet >


Did you know..?

For the first time in the show’s history, the Doctor is accompanied by an assistant boasting higher academic qualifications than his. Romana graduated the Time Lord’s Academy with a triple first, while the Doctor, we learn, “…scraped through with 51% on the second attempt.”

The Ribos Operation
is available on DVD in
the box set:
The Key to Time
To find out more in the UK
click on the cover below.

The Key to Time

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