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Dr Who

Series 17


September – October 1979

“My dear, nobody could be as stupid as he seems!”
Count Scarlioni discussing the Doctor with Countess Scarlioni, episode 1

Tom as the Doctor confronted by Leonardo's guards in City of Death.
Picture © BBC

On a plain in prehistoric Earth a damaged spacecraft, carrying the last members of the warlike Jagaroth race, is being prepared for launch using its warp drive engines. Alone on the flight deck the pilot, Scaroth (Julian Glover), fears the consequences of engaging these engines while still in a planet’s atmosphere. Fearfully he lifts off but the engines do indeed stall and explode. The resulting space warp splinters Scaroth into multiple versions of himself, each one projected through time to a different point in the planet’s history…

The Doctor and Romana arrive in Paris, 1979. Here a reclusive aristocrat, Count Scarlioni, is engaged on a massive art fraud to help finance his time travel experiments. Beneath his mask Scarlioni is one of the worm-faced manifestations of Scaroth. Aided by his other selves in the past, Scaroth has been helping mankind develop from primitive apes to a point when they can create a time machine.  Scarlioni wants to go back in time and prevent the explosion that killed his people. Only the Doctor knows this event was also the nuclear spark that began life on Earth.  Scarlioni's wish to rewrite history will delete the future existence of the entire human race.

Threatened with seeing Paris destroyed, Romana is cajoled into helping the Count perfect his time travel mechanism and he departs for primeval Earth. Following him, the Doctor delays the Count just long enough for him not to be able to prevent the ship’s fatal lift-off.

Humanity has been saved, and the only loose end to be tied is ensuring that only one genuine edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa exists to hang in the Louvre.

The Creature from the Pit >


Did you know..?

The fourth episode of this story, which saw Doctor Who filming overseas for the first time, attracted over 16 million viewers, the highest ever UK ratings in the show’s history. But it wasn’t just the brilliance of the Doctor’s exploits. Rival channel ITV had been on strike for several weeks, leaving autumn 1979 viewers with just a choice between BBC1 or BBC2.


City of Death
is available on DVD.
To find out more in the UK
click on the cover below.
City of Death

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