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Episode Guide
The Reign of Terror
Production Code: H
Season 1, Story Number 8
Written by John Lucarotti

Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.

A Land of Fear
08 August 1964 | 24'24" | 6.9 | 16mm t/r
Guests of Madame Guillotine
15 August 1964 | 24'04" | 6.9 | 16mm t/r
A Change of Identity
22 August 1964 | 25'23" | 6.9 | 16mm t/r
The Tyrant of France
29 August 1964 | 24'46" | 6.4 | Not in archive
A Bargain of Necessity
05 September 1964 | 23'51" | 6.9 | Not in archive
Prisoners of Concergerie
12 September 1964 | 25'04" | 6.4 | 16mm t/r
Archive Status: Episodes 1, 2, 3 and 6 exist on 16mm telerecordings. Episode 6 was returned by a private collector in May 1982; prints of all four extant episodes were recovered from a television station in Cyprus circa 1985 (including a superior print of episode 2). Twelve clips from episodes 4 and 5 exist survive in the form of an 8mm home movie reel shot off a television set, as follows:

Episode 4The Doctor in Robespierre's office. [0:02]
Ian talking in Jules' house just after his planned escape. [0:03]
Ian talking the following morning, hoping he can trust the physician. [0:01]
Susan lying down in the physician's surgery. [0:01]
Susan looking worried as Barbara tries to open the surgery door. [0:02,0:01]
Episode 5Barbara in her cell talking to the Doctor about regretting having taken Susan to see the physician. [0:04]
Barbara remarking on the Doctor's Regional Officer of the Provinces disguise. [0:03]
Ian talking in the surgery. [0:01]
Shots of the Doctor talking. [0:01, 0:01]
Ian and Barbara in Jules' house, surprised by Lemaitre's entrance. [0:01]
William Hartnell (Dr. Who), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Keith Anderson (Robespierre), Tony Wall (Napoleon), Neville Smith (D Argenson), Peter Walker (Small boy), Laidlaw Dalling (Rouvray), Robert Hunter (Sergeant), Ken Lawrence (Lieutenant), James Hall (Soldier), Howard Charlton (Judge), Jack Cunningham (Jailer), Jeffry Wickham (Webster), Dallas Cavell (Road Works Overseer), Denis Cleary (Peasant), James Cairncross (Lemaitre), Roy Herrick (Jean), Donald Morely (Jules Renan), John Barrard (Shopkeeper), Caroline Hunt (Danielle), Edward Brayshaw (Léon Colbert), Ronald Pickup (Physician), Terry Bale (Soldier), John Law (Paul Barrass), Patrick Marley (Soldier)
The TARDIS brings the four time travellers to Paris in 1794 - one of the bloodiest years of the French Revolution - where they become involved with an escape chain rescuing prisoners from the guillotine. Ian, Barbara and Susan are captured by soldiers and taken to the Conciergerie Prison in Paris, where they arouse the interest of its governor, Lemaitre (James Cairncross). The Doctor, left for dead in a burning farmhouse, is rescued by a young boy (Peter Walker) and makes his way to Paris on foot.

Ian escapes from the prison, much to the alarm of the incompetent jailer (Jack Cunningham), while Barbara and Susan are rescued en route to the guillotine by Jules Renan (Donald Morley) and Jean (Roy Herrick) - two organisers of the escape chain. Ian eventually meets up with his friends at Renan's house, and later exposes one of the man's associates, Leon Colbert (Edward Brayshaw), as a traitor betraying escapees to the authorities.

The Doctor, posing as a civic dignitary, has meanwhile arrived at the Conciergerie Prison in search of his friends. Twice he is brought by Lemaitre before the great tyrant Robespierre (Keith Anderson) and has to talk his way out of trouble.

It eventually transpires that Lemaitre is an English undercover spy, James Stirling, in Paris to observe developments there. In return for his help in freeing Susan, who has been recaptured and taken back to the Prison, Ian and Barbara journey to an inn called the Sinking Ship to spy on a clandestine meeting between Robespierre's deputy, Paul Barrass (John Law), and an even more ambitious man, Napoleon Bonaparte (Tony Wall), who are plotting the tyrant's downfall. The two friends subsequently report back to Stirling, who is intrigued at the suggestion that Bonaparte could be the next ruler of France.

As events reach their climax, Robespierre is overthrown - shot in the jaw and dragged off to the Prison - and the Doctor and his companions slip quietly away.

Synopsis from Doctor Who: The First Doctor Handbook by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, reprinted with permission; further reproduction is not permitted.

Production Team
Michael Cager (Assistant Floor Manager), Mervyn Pinfield (Associate Producer), Daphne Dare (Costumes), Roderick Laing (Designer), Peter Hamilton (Film Cameraman), Caroline Shields (Film Editor), Stanley Myers (Incidental Music), Jill Summers (Make-Up), Sonia Markham (Make-Up), Verity Lambert (Producer), Timothy Combe (Production Assistant), David Whitaker (Script Editor), Brian Hodgson (Special Sounds), Howard King (Studio Lighting), Chick Anthony (Studio Sound), Ray Angel (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music)
Story Notes
This serial was a replacement for a canceled 6-part story by David Whitaker concerning the aftermath of the Spanish Armada; the idea for a French Revolution story was suggested by cast member William Russell. Carole Ann Ford taped a segment to introduce and bridge the planned video release of this story, but the release was canceled. The first ever on-location filming was done in this story, with a second-unit taping a body double for William Hartnell in the countryside. William Russell appeared in "Guests of Madame Guillotine" and "A Change of Identity" only in pre-taped inserts, as the actor was on holiday during the taping of these episodes. The working title of episode two was "Guests of the Guillotine".
For more in-depth information about the contents of this story, a complete episode-by-episode detailed breakdown can be found at the Doctor Who Reference Guide.
Additional, more detailed information about the production of this story can be found at Shannon Patrick Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel).
DVD release
Some footage, including the 8mm off-air home movie clips from episodes 4 and 5, are included on the "Lost in Time" DVD set released in 2004, as part of the "8mm Footage" option.
Video release
Released as "The Reign of Terror Collectors' Set" in the the UK [November 2003] and Australia/New Zealand [December 2003] (BBC catalog #7335), US/Canada [October 2003] (WHV catalog #E1853), episodic version, photomontage cover. The set includes existing Patrick Troughton episodes ("The Web of Fear" episode 1 and "The Faceless Ones" episodes 1 and 3). US/Canada version sold individually as well as part of the "End of the Universe Collection" 13-tape set [October 2003] (WHV catalog #1840). Release features a short photo reconstruction like that on the release of "The Crusade". An earlier release of the four extant episodes was contemplated in the 1990's by the BBC, and an introduction to the story was taped featuring Carole Ann Ford (Susan), but this was eventually discarded and the release scrapped; Ford's linking narration (but not introduction) appears on this tape. US/Canada cover illustration differs from the UK version as it was done in-house at BBC America for needed early publicity push, as story was released in North America before other locatinos.
In Print
Novelised as "Doctor Who - The Reign of Terror" by Ian Marter (Target #119), first released in 1987, with cover art by Tony Masero.
For more details on the various novelizations of this story, with additional background material, artwork and details of both UK and foreign releases, visit On Target.
Links and Additional Info
Reconstruction: Reconstructed using photos and the original audio soundtrack by Loose Cannon Productions, including introduction by Carole Ann Ford (Susan); details are available at recons.com. Also reconstructed earlier by Michael Palmer, no longer in circulation.

Full Script: The script for "The Reign of Terror" can be found at the Scripts Project site, hosted by the Earthbound Timelords.
Screencap Descriptions
Descriptions of each story screen capture above right, top to bottom:
  • A distant shot of the Doctor walking along a French countryside road (the first-ever location filming for Doctor Who)
  • the Doctor (William Hartnell) in French garb
  • two French soldiers
  • its off to the guillotine
  • the Doctor tangles with Robespierre (Keith Anderson)
  • Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) stumble upon something
  • Barbara with Ian (William Russell)