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Episode Guide
The Androids of Tara
Production Code: 5D
Season 16, Story Number 101
Written by David Fisher
Directed by Michael Hayes
Archives

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

Part One
25 November 1978 | 24'53" | 8.5
Part Two
02 December 1978 | 24'27" | 10.1
Part Three
09 December 1978 | 23'52" | 8.9
Part Four
16 December 1978 | 24'49" | 9
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), Mary Tamm (Romana), John Leeson (K9), Peter Jeffrey (Count Grendel), Neville Jason (Prince Reynart), Lois Baxter (Lamia), Simon Lack (Zadek), Paul Lavers (Farrah), Declan Mulholland (Till), Cyril Shaps (Archimandrite), Martin Matthews (Kurster)
Synopsis
When the fourth segment is traced to the lush planet of Tara the Doctor opts for a spot of fishing leaving Romana to find it on her own. She locates it, disguised as part of a statue, but is attacked by a Taran wood beast. She is rescued by Count Grendel of Gracht who sees off the beast and takes the segment from her for registration. As she tries to leave she twists her ankle and Grendel insists on taking her to his castle for treatment. When they arrive, Grendel and Lamia, a surgeon-engineer, are all set to disassemble Romana but are astonished when her ankle is seen to be swollen. She is a creature of flesh and blood and not an android as they had thought.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is captured by Swordsman Farrah and Swordmaster Zadek, two men loyal to Prince Reynart, rightful heir to the throne of Tara. They are interested in his knowledge of science and enquire if he can repair androids. They lead him off to meet Prince Reynart who explains that his coronation as King is due to take place the following day and that Grendel will do anything to stop the ceremony as if it does not go ahead as planned then Grendel will become King by default. An android of the Prince is intended as bait to safeguard Reynart, and the Doctor is forced at swordpoint to help repair it.

Grendel kidnaps the Prince and the Doctor is forced to modify the android so that it may be crowned in place of the genuine article. The Doctor summons K-9 from the TARDIS and sends it off to Castle Gracht to check on Romana. Meanwhile he arranges to get the android Prince to the throne room in time for the coronation.

Romana is placed in a cell with the injured Reynart. The Count is also holding the Princess Strella captive (she is the exact double of Romana - hence his and Lamia's astonishment that Romana was not an android) but she will not cooperate in any of his plans. Grendel now intends to marry the real Prince to Romana (persuading her to pose as Strella) and then kill him, following which he will marry Romana and then kill her, thus ensuring that he becomes ruler.

Reynart's coronation goes ahead but Princess Strella arrives towards the conclusion. The Doctor realises that this is an android copy sent to destroy the android Prince, and disables it. The ceremony is put on hold until the following day and Grendel begins plotting another way of achieving his plan. He constructs another android copy of Romana - this time equipped with a lethal ray operated by the Doctor's voice - and arranges for the Doctor to come and get her at the Pavilion of the Summer Winds. K-9 recognises the trap and saves the Doctor. Meanwhile the real Romana escapes from the castle and in her turn rescues the Doctor and K-9, who have been trapped by Grendel's men.

Grendel turns the tables when he destroys the Reynart android with a spear and re-captures Romana. He arranges for his twin marriage ceremonies to be conducted by the Archimandrite while the Doctor, K-9 and the Prince's men prepare to attack his castle.

The Doctor enters the castle via the moat and manages to disrupt the ceremony (having first found and pocketed the fourth segment in Lamia's workshop) and battle is joined as the Prince's men attack. In the confusion, Romana saves Strella from being killed and the Doctor fights with Grendel on the castle battlements. Grendel dives into the moat and swims to safety leaving the Doctor and Romana to work out a way of rescuing K-9 who is still on a raft on the moat.

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
Rosemary Webb (Assistant Floor Manager), Doreen James (Costumes), Valerie Warrender (Designer), Terry Walsh (Fight Arranger), John Walker (Film Cameraman), David Yates (Film Editor), Dudley Simpson (Incidental Music), Jill Hagger (Make-Up), Graham Williams (Producer), Teresa-Mary Winders (Production Assistant), John Nathan-Turner (Production Unit Manager), Anthony Read (Script Editor), Dick Mills (Special Sounds), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Richard Chubb (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Len Hutton (Visual Effects)
Story Notes
An obvious parody of the Anthony Hope novel "The Prisoner of Zenda," "The Androids of Tara" was shot on location at Leeds Castle in Kent. A submission for this slot by author Ted Lewis was originally in development, but was canceled in favor of this submission by David Fisher who had also penned the previous story "The Stones of Blood". The opening titles for this story were in a different order from others at this point in the series' history. The order was story title, episode number, writer's name, as opposed to story title, writer's name, episode number. The working titles for the story were "The Prisoner of Zend," "The Androids Of Zenda," "The Androids Of Zend" and " The Seeds Of Time." There were several problems with recording around the castle moat at Leeds. Mary Tamm shows off her acting skills in this story, doubling as both Princess Strella and Romana.
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).
DVD release
 
Released in the US/Canada only [September 2002] (WHV catalog #E1310) as part of the "The Key To Time: The Complete Adventure" DVD Box Set, episodic format; photomontage cover. Includes commentary by Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and Michael Hayes; photo gallery; production notes; and Who's Who. (Complete DVD set identified as WHV catalog #E1692)
Video release
 
Released as “The Androids of Tara” in the UK [May 1995] and Australia/New Zealand [July 1995] (BBC catalog #5611), US/Canada [March 1996] (WHV catalog #E1310); episodic format, cover illustration by Colin Howard. In the UK, the spines of all six Key to Time series videos bear an illustration by Andrew Skilleter, not used overseas.
In Print
Novelised as “Doctor Who and the Androids of Tara” by Terrance Dicks (Target #3), first released in 1980 with cover art by Andrew Skilleter. 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 android duplicate of Prince Reynart (Neville Jason)
  • Romana (Mary Tamm) in her Taran garb
  • the Archimandrite (Cyril Shaps) counsels Count Grendel (Peter Jeffrey)
  • the Doctor (Tom Baker) tells Romana a secret
  • Grendel
  • Romana is attacked by a Taran beast
  • Madame Lamia (Lois Baxter)