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Episode Guide
The Sensorites
Production Code: G
Season 1, Story Number 7
Written by Peter R Newman

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

Strangers in Space
20 June 1964 | 24'46" | 7.9 | 16mm t/r
The Unwilling Warriors
27 June 1964 | 24'44" | 6.9 | 16mm t/r
Hidden Danger
11 July 1964 | 24'53" | 7.4 | 16mm t/r
A Race Against Death
18 July 1964 | 24'49" | 5.5 | 16mm t/r
25 July 1964 | 25'47" | 6.9 | 16mm t/r
A Desperate Venture
01 August 1964 | 24'29" | 6.9 | 16mm t/r
Archive Status: All episodes exist on 16mm telerecordings. Negative film prints of all six episodes were recovered from BBC Enterprises circa 1978.
William Hartnell (Dr. Who), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Stephen Dartnell (John), Ilona Rodgers (Carol), Lorne Cossette (Maitland), Ken Tyllsen (1st Sensorite), Joe Greig (2nd Sensorite), John Bailey (Commander), Martyn Huntley (First Human), Giles Phibbs (Second Human), Ken Tyllsen (First Sensorite), Joe Greig (Second Sensorite), Peter Glaze (Third Sensorite), Arthur Newall (Fourth Sensorite), Eric Francis (First Elder), Bartlett Mullins (Second Elder), Ken Tyllsen (First Scientist), Joe Greig (Second Scientist / Warrior), Gerry Martin (Anthony Rogers)
The TARDIS lands on board a spaceship from 28th-century Earth. Its three occupants at first appear to be dead but then suddenly revive. Captain Maitland (Lorne Cossette) explains that he and his crew members, Carol Richmond (Ilona Rodgers) and John (Stephen Dartnell), have come under the influence of a race of telepathic aliens called Sensorites, who plunge them into catatonic trances for indeterminate periods.

Through telepathic communication with Susan, two Sensorites (Ken Tyllsen, Joe Greig) convey a request from their leader for a meeting with the travellers. While Maitland and Barbara remain on the spaceship, the Doctor, Ian, Susan, Carol and John all journey down to the creatures' planet, the Sense-Sphere, for talks.

The Sensorites' First Elder (Eric Francis) and Second Elder (Bartlett Mullins) explain that they know the humans have discovered the metal molybdenum on the Sense-Sphere and that they are afraid of being exploited. They fear humans as, since an earlier expedition left, many of their race have died from a mysterious disease. Despite opposition from the devious City Administrator (Peter Glaze), the Doctor is given permission to try to learn the cause of the deaths.

After carrying out extensive tests, the Doctor discovers that the deaths are due not to a disease at all, but to deadly nightshade poison in one of the city's aqueducts. He tracks down the culprits to a cave system near the aqueduct. They are three spacemen (John Bailey, Martyn Huntley, Giles Phibbs) left behind from the earlier expedition, who have become deranged after experimenting with telepathy. The City Administrator is arrested and banished after his attempts to cause mistrust between the Sensorites and humans are brought to light.

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
Dawn Robertson (Assistant Floor Manager), Val McCrimmon (Assistant Floor Manager), Mervyn Pinfield (Associate Producer), Daphne Dare (Costumes), Raymond Cusick (Designer), Norman Kay (Incidental Music), Jill Summers (Make-Up), Sonia Markham (Make-Up), Verity Lambert (Producer), David Conroy (Production Assistant), David Whitaker (Script Editor), Brian Hodgson (Special Sounds), Peter Murray (Studio Lighting), Jack Brummitt (Studio Sound), Les Wilkins (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music)
Story Notes
Jacqueline Hill did not appear in "A Race Against Death" and "Kidnap," as the actress was on holiday during the taping of these episodes. This story was the subject of a studio dispute (concerning production facilities) that nearly led to its cancellation. First story to suffer a preemption ("Hidden Danger" was postponed one week due to a sporting event).
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 Sensorites" in the UK [November 2002] and Australia/New Zealand [December 2002] (BBC catalog #7268), US/Canada [October 2003] (WHV catalog #E1852); 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 Gunfighters" 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).
Audio release
Some selections from this story (music and/or sound effects) have been released on "Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Volume One - The Early Years, 1963-1969" (BBC Music WMSF 6023-2).
In Print
Novelised as "Doctor Who - The Sensorites" by Nigel Robinson (Target #118), first released in 1987, 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.
Screencap Descriptions
Descriptions of each story screen capture above right, top to bottom:
  • Carol (Ilona Rodgers)
  • a Sensorite looks through the window
  • the true appearance of the Sensorities
  • the Doctor and Ian (William Hartnell, William Russell) face an uncertain future
  • the Doctor has a discussion with two Sensorites
  • Susan (Carole Ann Ford) with two Sensorites in their ship