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Episode Guide
The Gunfighters
Production Code: Z
Season 3, Story Number 25
Written by Donald Cotton
Directed by Rex Tucker

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

A Holiday for the Doctor
30 April 1966 | 23'48" | 6.5 | 16mm t/r
Don't Shoot the Pianist
07 May 1966 | 23'47" | 6.6 | 16mm t/r
Johnny Ringo
14 May 1966 | 23'52" | 6.2 | 16mm t/r
The OK Corral
21 May 1966 | 23'53" | 5.7 | 16mm t/r
Archive Status: All four episodes exist as 16mm telerecordings. A print of episode four was held by the Film & TV Library when audited in 1978. Negative film prints of all four episodes were recovered by BBC Enterprises circa 1978. Telesnaps (off-air camera photographs) from this story exist in the BBC Archives.
William Hartnell (Dr. Who), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Jackie Lane (Dodo Chaplet), William Hurndall (Ike Clanton), Maurice Good (Phineas Clanton), David Cole (Billy Clanton), Sheena Marshe (Kate), Shane Rimmer (Seth Harper), David Graham (Charlie), John Alderson (Wyatt Earp), Anthony Jacobs (Doc. Holliday), Richard Beale (Bat Masterson), Reed de Rouen (Pa Clanton), Laurence Payne (Johnny Ringo), Martyn Huntley (Warren Earp), Victor Carin (Virgil Earp.)
The TARDIS lands in the Wild West town of Tombstone in 1881. The Doctor, suffering from toothache, seeks out the local dentist, who turns out to be none other than the notorious Doc Holliday (Anthony Jacobs), currently engaged in a feud with Pa Clanton (Reed de Rouen) and his sons Ike (William Hurndell), Phineas (Maurice Good) and Billy (David Cole). Lawmen Wyatt Earp (John Alderson) and Bat Masterson (Richard Beale) are meanwhile doing their best to keep the peace.

For once, the Doctor is unable to help and, in the climactic shoot-out, the young Clanton brothers and their gunman ally Johnny Ringo (Laurence Payne) are all killed by Holliday, Earp and Earp's brother Virgil (Victor Carin).

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
Tom O'Sullivan (Assistant Floor Manager), Tristram Cary (Ballad Music), Daphne Dare (Costumes), Barry Newbury (Designer), Ken Westbury (Film Cameraman), Les Newman (Film Editor), Donald Cotton (Lyrics), Rex Tucker (Lyrics), Sonia Markham (Make-Up), Innes Lloyd (Producer), Tristan de Vere Cole (Production Assistant), Angela Gordon (Production Assistant), Gerry Davis (Script Editor), Brian Hodgson (Special Sounds), George Summers (Studio Lighting), Colin Dixon (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music)
Story Notes
A much-maligned story even to this day. The incidental music was accompanied by "The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon" in all four episodes, sung by Lynda Baron, played by pianist Tom McCall and written by Tristram Cary, Donald Cotton and Rex Tucker. McCall and Winifred Taylor were the piano accompaniment for Peter Purves' songs; Jackie Lane did not actually play the piano. Second Doctor Patrick Troughton and famed actor Donald Sutherland were considered for roles in this story. The son of director Rex Tucker, author Matthew Jacobs, wrote the 1996 Doctor Who BBC/FOX television movie starring Paul McGann. The working title for the story was "The Gunslingers." This was the final story to feature individual episode titles; the caption at the end of the fourth episode read "Next Episode: Dr. Who and the Savages".
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).
Video release
Released as "The Gunfighters" in the UK [November 2002] and Australia/New Zealand [December 2002] (BBC catalog #7268), US/Canada [October 2003] (WHV catalog #E1855); photomontage cover; episodic format. UK and Australia/New Zealand release sold only as part of the "First Doctor Special Edition Boxed Set" along with "The Sensorites" and "The Time Meddler"; US/Canada version sold individually as well as part of the "End of the Universe Collection" 13-tape set [October 2003] (WHV catalog #E1840).
In Print
Novelised as "Doctor Who - The Gunfighters" by Donald Cotton (Target #101), first released in 1985 with cover art by Andrew Skilleter.
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.
Screencap Descriptions
Descriptions of each story screen capture above right, top to bottom:
  • The Doctor, Steven and Dodo (William Hartnell, Peter Purves, Jackie Lane) face danger in Tombstone, Arizona
  • the landscape outside the OK Corral
  • Ike Clanton and Kate (William Hurndall, Sheena Marshe)
  • Steven and Dodo
  • the Doctor
  • Johnny Ringo (Laurence Payne)
  • gentlemen visit the saloon