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Episode Guide
The Keys of Marinus
Production Code: E
Season 1, Story Number 5
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by John Gorrie

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

The Sea of Death
11 April 1964 | 23'20" | 9.9 | 16mm t/r
The Velvet Web
18 April 1964 | 25'37" | 9.4 | 16mm t/r
The Screaming Jungle
25 April 1964 | 23'45" | 9.9 | 16mm t/r
The Snows of Terror
02 May 1964 | 24'54" | 10.4 | 16mm t/r
Sentence of Death
09 May 1964 | 25'03" | 7.9 | 16mm t/r
The Keys of Marinus
16 May 1964 | 25'11" | 6.9 | 16mm t/r
Archive Status: All episodes exist on 16mm telerecordings. "Sentence of Death" was held by the BBC's Film & Video Tape Library when audited in 1978; negative film prints of all six episodes were recovered from BBC Enterprises circa 1978. An Arabic print of "The Sea of Death" is also held.
William Hartnell (Dr. Who), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Carole Ann Ford (Susan), George Colouris (Arbitan), Martin Cort (Voord / Warrior / Ice Soldier / Aydan), Peter Stenson (Voord / Second Judge), Gordon Wales (Voord), Robin Phillips (Altos), Katharine Schofield (Sabetha), Heron Carvic (Voice of Morpho), Edmund Warwick (Darrius), Francis de Wolff (Vasor), Michael Allaby (Ice Soldier / Larn), Alan James (Ice Soldier / First Judge / Guard), Anthony Verner (Ice Soldier), Henley Thomas (Tarron), Raf de la Torre (Senior Judge), Fiona Walker (Kala), Donald Pickering (Eyesen), Stephen Dartnell (Yartek), Dougie Dean (Eprin)
The TARDIS materialises on a beach of glass bordering a sea of acid on an island on the planet Marinus. There the four time travellers discover some transparent submarines, empty save in one case for a rubber suit bearing a small tear through which the acid has apparently seeped and dissolved the wearer. Stalked by the submarines' other rubber-suited occupants, the travellers eventually make their way to a large pyramid they have seen in the distance.

Inside the pyramid they encounter Arbitan (George Coulouris), the keeper of the Conscience of Marinus - a machine designed to eliminate fear and aggression from the minds of the planet's inhabitants. Arbitan explains that four of the five micro-circuit keys required to activate the Conscience have been concealed in different locations around the planet to prevent them from falling into the hands of a creature called Yartek (Stephen Dartnell) and his followers the Voords (Martin Cort, Peter Stenson, Gordon Wales) - the rubber-suited assailants - who have developed a resistance to the machine's influence and plan to turn it to their own evil purposes. The machine has now been modified to overcome the Voords' resistance and Arbitan, by placing an impenetrable force field around the TARDIS, coerces the Doctor and his companions into undertaking the retrieval of the keys. He gives them wristwatch-like travel dials which will transport them instantaneously to each of the keys' locations in turn.

In their quest, the travellers visit such exotic locations as the city of Morphoton, where they almost fall prey to the hypnotic influence of disembodied brains (voiced by Heron Carvic) and join forces with Arbitan's daughter Sabetha (Katharine Schofield) and friend Altos (Robin Phillips); a ruined citadel, home to Arbitan's friend Darrius (Edmund Warwick), which is being overrun by rampaging plant life; a snowy wasteland where the dangers include wolves, an unscrupulous hunter named Vasor (Francis de Wolff) and a group of fearsome Ice Soldiers (Alan James, Anthony Verner, Peter Stenson, Michael Allaby); and Millenius, a city where Ian is falsely accused of murder and learns from prosecutor Tarron (Henley Thomas) that the legal rule is 'guilty until proven innocent'.

Eventually, having found the four keys, and also one fake, the travellers return to the island. In their absence, the Voords have murdered Arbitan and taken control, but Ian tricks Yartek into using the fake key along with three of the real ones and, as a result, the Conscience machine is destroyed - a fact about which the Doctor is not altogether unhappy as he considers that man was not meant to be controlled by machine.

Synopsis from Doctor Who: The First Doctor Handbook by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, reprinted with permission; further reproduction is not permitted.

Production Team
Timothy Combe (Assistant Floor Manager), Mervyn Pinfield (Associate Producer), Daphne Dare (Costumes), Raymond Cusick (Designer), Norman Kay (Incidental Music), Jill Summers (Make-Up), Verity Lambert (Producer), David Conroy (Production Assistant), Penny Joy (Production Assistant), David Whitaker (Script Editor), Brian Hodgson (Special Sounds), Peter Murray (Studio Lighting), Jack Brummitt (Studio Sound), Tony Milton (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music)
Story Notes
Terry Nation wrote this story to replace his earlier tale, "The Red Fort" (set during the Indian mutiny), which was abandoned when the series' plans changed in the wake of its popularity. It is memorable for the quest that its various characters end up on. William Hartnell did not appear in "The Screaming Jungle" and "The Snows of Terror" as the actor was on holiday during the taping of these episodes.
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 "The Keys of Marinus" in the UK [March 1999] and Australia/New Zealand [May 1999] (BBC catalog #6671); US/Canada [July 1999] (WHV catalog #E1383); episodic format, photo-montage cover.
Audio release
Some selections from this story (music and/or sound effects) have been released on "Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Volume One - The Early Years, 1963-1969" (BBC Music WMSF 6023-2).
In Print
Novelised as "Doctor Who and the Keys of Marinus" by Philip Hinchcliffe (Target #38), first released in 1980, cover art by David McAllister.
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 island in the sea of acid on Marinus
  • Arbitan (George Coulouris) sends our heroes on their way
  • a Marinan statue
  • the sentence of death is about to be pronounced
  • Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) discovers strange underwater suits
  • the Doctor (William Hartnell) with the Marinan rockets