Production Code: 4G
Season 13, Story Number 82
No episode stills are currently available for this story.
Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.
25 October 1975 | 25'22" | 10.5
01 November 1975 | 23'53" | 11.3
08 November 1975 | 24'32" | 9.4
15 November 1975 | 24'52" | 11.7
Archive Status: All four episodes exist in color as PAL 2" videotape, as held by the Film & Videotape Library when audited in 1978. The master of episode 2 suffers from a minor tracking fault.
(Doctor Who), Elisabeth Sladen
(Sarah Jane Smith), Bernard Archard
(Marcus Scarman), Michael Sheard
(Laurence Scarman), Gabriel Woolf
(Sutekh), Peter Copley
(Dr. Warlock), Peter Mayock
(Namin), Michael Bilton
(Collins), Vik Tablian
(Ahmed), Nick Burnell
(Mummy), Melvyn Bedford
(Mummy), Kevin Selway
(Mummy), George Tovey
Sarah, investigating the TARDIS's wardrobe, has found a dress previously worn by the second Doctor's companion Victoria. She is showing it off to the Doctor when the TARDIS is buffeted by an external force and a hideous jackal-like face appears in the console room, terrifying Sarah.
The TARDIS arrives on Earth, but the alien contact has pushed the ship off course slightly, and instead of arriving at UNIT HQ in the present day, the Doctor and Sarah find themselves in an old priory in the year 1911. The priory stands on the same site that UNIT HQ will occupy in the future.
The priory belongs to Professor Marcus Scarman, an archaeologist and Egyptologist. Scarman is in Egypt and a mysterious Egyptian, Ibrahim Namin, is looking after his affairs until he returns. Laurence Scarman, Marcus's brother, grows suspicious when he finds that he is unable to contact him. He confronts Namin in the priory but can get no information from him. When Laurence has left, Namin activates his servants - walking mummies - and prepares to speak to his true master via an upright sarcophagus. The sarcophagus is actually the portal to a space/time tunnel through which Sutekh the Destroyer, an Osiran worshipped as a god by the ancient Egyptians, plans again to walk the Earth. Sutekh took over the mind and body of Marcus Scarman when the latter excavated the pyramid in which he was trapped, and he sends this walking cadaver back to Namin via the space/time tunnel. Namin is killed and Sutekh, through Scarman, sets about making arrangements to free himself from the pyramid where his brother Horus trapped him aeons ago.
Sutekh seals off the priory from the outside world and instructs his servicer robot servants (the mummies) to construct a rocket which will destroy a pyramid on Mars which is sending a signal holding him trapped on Earth. The Doctor tries to stop the rocket by detonating a box of explosive in it, but Sutekh prevents the explosion by force of will and the Doctor has no choice but to travel to Sutekh's pyramid via the space/time tunnel and distract the Osiran so that the rocket will be destroyed. This places the Doctor under Sutekh's control and he is returned to the priory in order that he may transport Scarman to Mars. There, Scarman can ensure that the bonds which hold Sutekh are finally broken.
Scarman, with Sutekh's help, navigates the puzzles which guard the way into the pyramid on Mars and switches off the power. The Doctor, now free of Sutekh's influence, realises that there is a time delay between Mars and Earth. He rushes back to Earth and connects equipment from the TARDIS to the space/time tunnel, extending its end point into the far future. Sutekh, travelling down the tunnel, is unable to reach the end in his lifetime, and dies. The energy from the tunnel sets fire to the priory which burns down as the Doctor and Sarah leave.
Synopsis from Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor Handbook by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, reprinted with permission; further reproduction is not permitted.
(Assistant Floor Manager), Barbara Kidd
(Costumes), Christine Ruscoe
(Designer), John McGlashan
(Film Cameraman), M A C Adams
(Film Editor), Dudley Simpson
(Incidental Music), Jean Steward
(Make-Up), Philip Hinchcliffe
(Producer), Peter Grimwade
(Production Assistant), George Gallacio
(Production Unit Manager), Janet Radenkovic
(Production Unit Manager), Robert Holmes
(Script Editor), Dick Mills
(Special Sounds), Ron Koplick
(Studio Lighting), Brian Hiles
(Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire
(Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer
(Title Music), Ian Scoones
Considered one of the best Tom Baker stories, "Pyramids of Mars" was commissioned from Lewis Griefer, but the only things used from his original scripts were the title and setting, as Robert Holmes proceeded to write a completely different version; therefore, the pseudonym of Stephen Harris was used. Although the script states that Sarah Jane is wearing an old dress of Victoria Waterfield's, it is not a costume which had previously been used in the series. The Doctor's age is given as 750 years old. Gabriel Woolf also provided Sutekh's voice in Part Two and Horus's voice in Part Four, both uncredited. This was the last appearance of a traditional-look TARDIS control room set until The Invisible Enemy eleven stories later. This story was shot prior to "Planet of Fire" but was aired after. The estate the story was filmed in, Stargroves, had at one time been occupied by Lord Caernarvon, who had been involved in the finding of Tut's tomb decades before. The story is sequelized in an original Virgin Missing Adventures novel, "The Sands of Time."
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
Released on DVD in the UK [March 2004] and Australia/New Zealand [June 2004] (BBC DVD catalog #1350), US/Canada [September 2004] (WHV catalog #E2023); episodic format, photomontage cover (UK version by Clayton Hickman). Includes commentary by Elisabeth Sladen, guest star Michael Sheard and producer Philip Hinchcliffe, with input from director Paddy Russell; "Osirian Gothic," a 22-minute interview featurette with director Paddy Russell, Sladen, Sheard, Hinchcliffe, Bernard Archard (Marcus Scarman), Peter Copley (Dr. Warlock), Gabriel Woolf (Sutekh) and designer Christine Ruscoe; "Serial Thrillers," a 42-minute featurette covering Philip Hinchcliffe's era as the show's producer, with Hinchcliffe, director David Maloney, writer Robert Banks-Stewart, designers Christine Ruscoe and Roger Murray-Leach, actress Elisabeth Sladen, writers Gareth Roberts, Alan Barnes and others; "Now and Then: The Locations of Pyramids of Mars," an 8-minute feature shot on location at Stargrove, the country house featured in the story narrated by Michael Sheard (with Elisabeth Sladen and Jon Culshaw), music by Heathcliffe Blair; deleted scenes including the unused shot of the TARDIS materialising on the alternative future Earth of 1980, an alternative take of the poacher running away from the mummies after he shoots Marcus Scarman, and the full-length version of the war missile explosion, plus three sequences utilising roll-back and mix effects that Paddy Russell felt were not successful and subsequently cut out; "Oh Mummy," a 7-minute comedy sketch focusing on Sutekh's career after "Pyramids of Mars" written by and starring Rob Hammond and directed by Matt West, starring Gabriel Woolf as Sutekh (this was screened at the Panopticon 2003 convention); easter egg; production notes and photo gallery. US/Canada version also includes Who's Who and Howard DaSilva introductions (taped for US broadcasts in the late 1970's). Easter egg: original BBC1 (1975) and BBC2 repeat (1994) continuity announcements.
Released as “Pyramids of Mars” in the UK [February 1985] and Australia/New Zealand [November 1985] (BBC catalog #4055), US/Canada [February 1988] (WHV catalog #E1109); omnibus (movie) format, edited for time, photomontage cover. Also released in December 1985 in Japan. Re-released in complete, episodic format in the UK [February 1994] (BBC catalog #5220). Rereleased in US/Canada [March 1998] as part of the "Gateway Collection" with slightly revised photomontage cover but identical contents (and WHV catalog #) as original omnibus release.
A music suite from the story was released on "Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars" arranged by Dudley Simpson & Heathcliff Blair, released by Silva Screen (1993); a shorter selection of this music was also released on "The Worlds of Doctor Who" released by Silva Screen (1994).
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars” by Terrance Dicks (Target #50), first released in 1976 with cover art by Chris Achilleos. Re-released in 1982 with cover illustration by Andrew Skilleter, and again in 1993 as "Doctor Who – Pyramids of Mars" with cover illustration by Alister Pearson. Also released in hardback in 1976.
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