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Episode Guide
Underworld
Production Code: 4Y
Season 15, Story Number 96
Directed by Norman Stewart
Archives

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

Part One
07 January 1978 | 22'36" | 8.9
Part Two
14 January 1978 | 21'27" | 9.1
Part Three
21 January 1978 | 22'21" | 8.9
Part Four
28 January 1978 | 22'53" | 11.7
Archive Status: All four episodes exist as PAL 2” colour videotape, always held by the BBC’s Film and Videotape Library.
Cast
Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9), James Maxwell (Jackson), Alan Lake (Herrick), Jonathan Newth (Orfe), Imogen Bickford-Smith (Tala), James Marcus (Rask), Godfrey James (Tarn), Jimmy Gardner (Idmon), Norman Tipton (Idas), Jay Neill (Guard Klimt), Frank Jarvis (Ankh), Richard Shaw (Lakh), Stacey Tendeter (Naia), Christine Pollon (Voice of the Oracle)
Synopsis
The TARDIS arrives on board a Minyan space craft, the R1C, commanded by a man named Jackson. Jackson and his crew are on a long quest to recover the Minyan race banks from a ship called the P7E which left Minyos aeons ago. The Minyans are suspicious of the Doctor as they know his race of old: the Time Lords shared some of their knowledge with the Minyans, who then proceeded to destroy themselves through war as they were unable to cope with it.

The R1C is buried in a meteor storm but the Doctor helps the crew to free it. However, it then crashes into another newly formed planet at the heart of which is the P7E.

Inside the new planet the time travellers and the Minyans discover a maze of tunnels and passages. The Doctor eventually makes his way to the centre where the P7E's computer, the Oracle, holds court. The computer was originally programmed to protect the race banks but has gone insane and dominated the Minyan survivors and their descendants. The Oracle allows Jackson to take what appear to be the race banks, but they are in truth imitations containing fission-grenades. The Doctor realises the deception and obtains the real race banks. He then tricks the Oracle's guards into taking the grenades back to their leader. As there is no way of defusing them, they explode, destroying the planet and the P7E and boosting the R1C off on its voyage to Minyos II.

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.

Production Team
Gary Downie (Assistant Floor Manager), Rupert Jarvis (Costumes), Dick Coles (Designer), Richard Trevor (Film Editor), Dudley Simpson (Incidental Music), Cecile Hay-Arthur (Make-Up), Graham Williams (Producer), Mike Cager (Production Assistant), John Nathan-Turner (Production Unit Manager), Anthony Read (Script Editor), Dick Mills (Special Sounds), Mike Jefferies (Studio Lighting), Richard Chubb (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Richard Conway (Visual Effects)
Story Notes
Underworld was based on the mythos of Jason and the Argonauts, and their quest for the Golden Fleece, with changes to the names: Jason becomes Jackson, Heracles becomes Herrick, Persephone becomes P7E, Argosy becomes R1C and so forth. The sets of the Minyan spacecraft proved much more expensive than anticipated leaving no scenery budget for the scenes set inside the new planet. To overcome this problem, Colour Separation Overlay was used in conjunction with models to give the impression of caves and tunnels, the biggest use of CSO on the series to date. The working title for the story was "Underground".
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 “Underworld” in the UK [March 2002] and Australia/New Zealand [May 2002] (BBC catalog #7264), US/Canada [May 2003] (WHV catalog #E1741); episodic format, photomontage cover.
In Print
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Underworld” by Terrance Dicks (Target #67), first released in 1980 with cover art by Bill Donohoe. Released in hardcover in 1980.
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 R-1-C in the nebula
  • the robotic servants of the Oracle
  • the Doctor (Tom Baker) with Jackson (James Maxwell) and Imogen Bickford-Smith (Tala)
  • the TARDIS in the nebula
  • two of the R-1-C crew go exploring in the caves
  • Herrick (Alan Lake)
  • the Doctor confronts the Oracle
  • Tala before her regenerative process