Production Code: 4A
Season 12, Story Number 75
Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.
28 December 1974 | 24'11" | 10.8
04 January 1975 | 25'00" | 10.7
11 January 1975 | 24'29" | 10.1
18 January 1975 | 24'29" | 9
Archive Status: All four episodes exist in color as PAL 2" videotape, as held by the Film & Videotape Library when audited in 1978.
(Doctor Who), Elisabeth Sladen
(Sarah Jane Smith), Ian Marter
(Harry Sullivan), Nicholas Courtney
(Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), John Levene
(Sergeant Benton), Patricia Maynard
(Miss Winters), Michael Kilgarriff
(Robot), Edward Burnham
(Professor Kettlewell), Alec Linstead
(Jellicoe), Timothy Craven
The thefts of electronic components and secret plans have been happening both at night and in broad daylight and with the Doctor confined to sick bay there is little the Brigadier can do. When the Doctor recovers, he inspects the site of the most recent theft and realises that he and his friends are up against something distinctly non-human as heavy vehicle tracks have been found in the vicinity of the supposedly secure buildings which housed the components. In a later incident, the perpetrator actually drills through the ground to gain access to a heavily armed vault at Emmett Electronics.
It is Sarah who first meets the culprit, a massive robot invented by one Professor J.P. Kettlewell while he was working for the Think Tank, a government installation involved in developing emerging technologies. The robot has been re-programmed under the direction of the director of Think Tank, Miss Hilda Winters, and used to obtain the means for constructing a disintegrator gun with which the Scientific Reform Society - of which she is a leading member - can obtain the computer codes controlling the nuclear weapons of the world's leading powers. In this way, the SRS hope to hold the world to ransom unless their demands for a purer way of life are met.
Kettlewell, although claiming no knowledge of Miss Winters's activities, is actually a party to them, and is ultimately killed by his creation when he realises his error and tries to stop the Robot from wiping out a group of UNIT troops.
The Robot suffers an electronic/mental breakdown upon killing its creator, and this coincides with the Brigadier's attempt to destroy the behemoth with the disintegrator gun. Unfortunately this causes the robot to grow and the now gigantic creature goes on the rampage through the UNIT troops, protecting only Sarah Jane with whom it feels an affinity. The Doctor manages to save the day by brewing up a virulent metal virus described in Kettlewell's notes, and using it to eat away the towering titan until there is nothing left but a small heap of decaying rust, which itself is soon destroyed by the virus.
With this problem sorted out, the Doctor, now fully recovered following his change of appearance, decides that the time has come to travel once more. He persuades Sarah Jane and UNIT medic, Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan, to join him. The Brigadier is less than pleased to see the TARDIS dematerialise, as the Doctor has been invited to an audience at the Palace.
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), James Acheson
(Costumes), Ian Rawnsley
(Designer), Dudley Simpson
(Incidental Music), Judy Clay
(Make-Up), Barry Letts
(Producer), Peter Grimwade
(Production Assistant), George Gallacio
(Production Unit Manager), Robert Holmes
(Script Editor), Dick Mills
(Special Sounds), Nigel Wright
(Studio Lighting), John Holmes
(Studio Sound), Trevor Webster
(Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire
(Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer
(Title Music), Clifford Culley
The first of the "new era" of Doctor Who, "Robot" features a quite amusing introduction of Tom Baker's Doctor. The new season breeds a new opening and closing sequence designed by Bernard Lodge, using a "slit scan" technique along with Baker's face and the TARDIS exterior. Ian Marter makes his debut as Harry Sullivan in a way peculiar to the series (it's assumed he's been around for quite some time, this is just the first opportunity we've had to meet him); Marter also played a role in "Carnival of Monsters" previously, and later penned many Target novelizations. The regeneration sequence is virtually the same for the Pertwee-Baker transition, although the scenes of Elisabeth Sladen and Nick Courtney were refilmed. Benton reveals in Part Two that he has been promoted to Warrant Officer, but this is not reflected in the closing credits, which continue to give his rank as Sergeant. "Robot" was the first Doctor Who story completely recorded on video tape using colour video cameras. Tom Baker goes through several costume changes before he gets to the bohemian outfit we recognize, and launches the TARDIS on at least one occasion (where hardline viewers note that he may have slipped off to the planet of Xoanon in "The Face of Evil" during this story.)
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 “Robot” in the UK [March 1992] and Australia/New Zealand [July 1992] (BBC catalog #4714), US/Canada [May 1994] (WHV catalog #E1260); episodic format, cover illustration by Alister Pearson (utilizing same artwork as 1992 novelisation cover). Clips from this story, and from all subsequent Tom Baker serials, are seen (and commented on by Baker) on "The Tom Baker Years," released in the UK [September 1992] and Australia/New Zealand [March 1993] (BBC catalog #4839), US/Canada [March 1993] (WHV catalog #E1103), double tape set in UK and US/Canada (single tape in Australia/New Zealand).
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Giant Robot” by Terrance Dicks (Target #28), first released in 1975 with cover art by Peter Brookes. Re-released in 1979 with cover by Jeff Cummins; again re-released and retitled “Doctor Who - Robot” in 1992 with cover art by Alister Pearson. Released in hardcover in 1986. 1979 version included as part of the “Fourth Doctor Who Gift Set” released in 1981; this was the only pre-1980 novel included in the entire book compilation series. Also released as an installment of the Junior Doctor Who line, a series for young readers, as “Junior Doctor Who and the Giant Robot,” written by Terrance Dicks, released in 1979.
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
Descriptions of each story screen capture above right, top to bottom:
- The Doctor (Tom Baker), freshly regenerated and ready for adventure
- the giant Robot
- the Doctor, along with the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) and Sergeant Benton (John Levene), face off against the Robot
- the Doctor examines his new face
- the Doctor makes some wardrobe changes
- Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) are held captive
- Sarah faces Miss Winters (Patricia Maynard)
- the new TARDIS team - the Doctor, Sarah and Harry