Production Code: 4K
Season 13, Story Number 84
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.
03 January 1976 | 25'25" | 9.5
10 January 1976 | 24'46" | 9.3
17 January 1976 | 25'07" | 10.1
24 January 1976 | 24'18" | 10.2
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 tape of episode one is missing a small portion of music near the end of the episode.
(Doctor Who), Elisabeth Sladen
(Sarah Jane Smith), Philip Madoc
( Solon), Colin Fay
(Condo), Michael Spice
(Voice of Morbius), Cynthia Grenville
(Maren), Gilly Brown
(Ohica), Sue Bishop
(Sister), Janie Kells
(Sister), Gabrielle Mowbray
(Sister), Veronica Ridge
(Sister), John Scott Martin
(Kriz), Stuart Fell
The planet Karn is home both to a mystic Sisterhood, whose sacred flame produces an elixir of life, and to Mehendri Solon, a fanatical scientist who is using the remnants of spaceship crash victims to put together a new body for the still-living brain of the executed Time Lord criminal Morbius. When the Doctor and Sarah arrive on the planet, Solon decides that the Doctor's head is just what he needs to complete his work.
The Sisterhood meanwhile fear that the Doctor has been sent by the Time Lords to steal the last drops of elixir produced by the dying flame. They kidnap him and plan to burn him at the stake but he is rescued by Sarah, who is temporarily blinded in the process.
The Doctor is tricked by Solon into believing that his companion's condition is permanent. He asks the Sisterhood for help and restores their sacred flame to its former glory using a firework to clear its blocked chimney. Returning to Solon's citadel, the Doctor and Sarah become trapped in the cellar. The Doctor releases cyanide fumes into the ventilation system and Solon is killed, but not before he has used an artificial brain case to complete Morbius's new body.
The now-mobile Morbius accepts the Doctor's challenge to a mind-bending contest, which takes a heavy toll on both of them. The Sisters force the crazed Morbius over a cliff and he falls to his death. They then use the elixir to heal the Doctor.
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), L Rowland Warne
(Costumes), Barry Newbury
(Designer), Dudley Simpson
(Incidental Music), Jean McMillan
(Make-Up), Geraldine Stephenson
(Movement), Philip Hinchcliffe
(Producer), Carol Wiseman
(Production Assistant), Janet Radenkovic
(Production Unit Manager), Robert Holmes
(Script Editor), Dick Mills
(Special Sounds), Peter Catlett
(Studio Lighting), Tony Millier
(Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire
(Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer
(Title Music), John Horton
A story quite analogous to the "Frankenstein" mythos, "The Brain of Morbius" reuses a number of elements from Terrance Dicks' 1974 stage play "Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday." The story was taped entirely in studio without any filming. Robin Bland is a pseudonym for Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes, who both worked on the story (which Dicks believed was rather bland, hence the name.) Various images appear during the battle between the Doctor and Morbius; some speculate these are earlier incarnations of the Doctor but such is countermanded by other information (especially in "The Five Doctors" when the Davison incarnation states he is the fourth regeneration, i.e. the fifth Doctor.) These other incarnations may be earlier versions of Morbius and include photographs of directors Christopher Barry and Douglas Camfield, script editor Robert Holmes, production unit manager George Gallaccio, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, writer Robert Banks Stewart and production assistants Chris Baker and Graeme Harper. This story introduces the Sisterhood of Karn and delves a bit more into the mythos of Gallifrey. Kriz, a creature killed by Solon's servant Condo in Part One after its spaceship crash-lands on Karn, is a Solonian mutant from the season nine story "The Mutants" (due to the fact that the production team did not want to spend the money to create an entirely new costume for a small role.) At the end of Part Four the TARDIS dematerialises instantaneously, with a flash and a puff of smoke, rather than fading away gradually, and the dematerialisation sound is played at a higher speed than usual. A reference to a race called the Muthi was misheard and instead named Hoothi in Paul Cornell's novel "Love and War". Terrance Dicks penned the prequel story "Warmonger" for BBC Books which details the Sixth Doctor and Peri's encounter with Solon and Morbius.
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 as “The Brain of Morbius” in the UK [July 1984] and Australia/New Zealand [November 1987] (BBC catalog #2012), US/Canada [July 1987] (CBS/FOX catalog #3715; never reclassified with WHV catalog #), omnibus (movie) format in heavily edited edition, photomontage cover. This version released in 1984 in both VHS and Betamax format. Re-released as "The Brain of Morbius" in the UK [July 1990] and Australia/New Zealand [January 1991] (BBC catalog #4388), and as "The Brain of Morbius: Collectors' Edition" in the US/Canada [February 1997] (WHV catalog #E1348), episodic format, cover illustration by Alister Pearson. Also released in the UK on Laserdisc in 1984, details unknown.
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 Brain of Morbius” by Terrance Dicks (Target #7), first released in 1977 with cover art by Mike Little. Re-released as “Doctor Who – The Brain of Morbius” in 1991 with cover art by Alister Pearson. Released in hardcover in 1977. Also released as an installment of the Junior Doctor Who line, a series for young readers, as “Junior Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius,” written by Terrance Dicks, released in 1980. Also published in France in 1987.
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