THE DEADLY ASSASSIN
October – November 1976
“You will never amount to anything in the galaxy while you retain your propensity for vulgar facetiousness.”
Cardinal Borusa to the Doctor, episode 4
On his way back to Gallifrey, the Time Lords’ planet, a dream-like vision warns the Doctor he will be responsible for assassinating a retiring Time Lord President (Llewellyn Rees).
Tom as the Doctor with extras in a scene in the Panopticon in Deadly Assassin.
Picture © BBC
Worried by this apparent portent the Doctor tries to land the TARDIS un-noticed, but fails, illegally arriving within the Time Lords’ ceremonial palace during preparations for the retirement ceremony. Pursued by the palace Guard, the Doctor is cornered on an elevated viewing gallery, and witnessed by all, raises a sniper’s rifle he has found there and appears to shoot the President dead.
At his trial the Doctor explains to his Time Lord prosecutor, Chancellor Goth (Bernard Horsfall) that he was aiming at the real assassin, one of many robed High Councillors surrounding the President. He glimpsed this figure raising a concealed hand weapon from his gown, but didn’t see his face. With no substantiating evidence, Goth dismisses his plea and sentences the Doctor to death.
Sheriff of the Guard, Castellan Spandrell (George Pravda), eventually believes the Doctor, after examining the rifle and discovering its sights had been deliberately mis-aligned. The Doctor could have shot neither the President nor his real killer. Spandrell and the Doctor unmask the true assassin, Chancellor Goth, who knew in advance the President had planned to break with tradition and not name him as his successor. But Goth is revealed as the puppet of a more sinister opponent, the Doctor’s old Time Lord enemy, the Master (Peter Pratt).
The Master plans to use the dead President’s seals of office to open the Eye of Harmony; the device balancing and controlling the vast power that gives Gallifreyan society its mastery over time. Unleashing this power will destroy Gallifrey, but it will also enable the Master to renew his own body’s regeneration cycle by giving him control over the shaping of matter itself. As earthquakes begin shaking the Panopticon, the Doctor’s only hope is hand-to-hand combat against the Master – an enemy he knows is now totally insane.