5) THE KEYS OF MARINUS

11 April - 16 May 1964

Average Viewing Figure: 9.1M

Plot

The Tardis crew are sent on a mission to find the keys of Marinus which have been hidden to stop Yartek from gaining control

Cast

William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)

George Coulouris (Arbitan), Francis de Wolff (Vasor), Donald Pickering (Eyesen), Henley Thomas (Tarron), Robin Phillips (Altos)

Katherine Schofield (Sabetha), Martin Cort, Peter Stenson, Gordon Wales (Voords), Heron Carvic (Voice of Morpho)

Heron Carvic (Voice of Morpho), Martin Cort (Warrior), Edmund Warwick (Darrius), Michael Allaby, Alan James, Peter Stenson

Anthony Verner (Ice Soldiers), Michael Allaby (Larn), Raf de la Torre (Senior Judge), Alan James (First Judge)

Peter Stenson (Second Judge), Fiona Walker (Kala), Martin Cort (Aydan), Alan James (Guard), Stephen Dartnell (Yartek)

Uncredited Cast

Faith Hines, Daphne Thomas, Veronica Thornton, Sharon Young, Lynda Taylor (Ladies in Waiting), Bob Haddow (Idol), Dougie Dean (Eprin)

Veronica Thornton, Valerie Stanton, David Kramer, Adrian Drotskie, Leslie Shannon, Patricia Anne, Billy Dean, Tony Lampton

Brian Bates, Monique Lewis, Heidi Lane, Rosina Stewart, Cecilia Johnson, Jill Howard, Yvonne Howard, Tony Hennessey

Johnny Crawford, Leslie Wilkinson, Desmond Cullum Jones, Perrin Lewis (Citizens of Millenius), John Beerbohm (Double for Arbitan)

Crew

Terry Nation (Writer), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Norman Kay (Incidental Music), Daphne Dare (Costume Supervisor)

Jill Summers (Make-Up Supervisor), David Whitaker (Story Editor), Raymond P Cusick (Designer), Mervyn Pinfield (Associate Producer)

Verity Lambert (Producer), John Gorrie (Director)

Uncredited Crew

Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Pat Heigham (Grams Operator), Timothy Combe (Assistant Floor Manager)

Peter Murray (Studio Lighting), Jack Brummitt, Tony Milton (Studio Sound), David Conroy, Penny Joy (Production Assistants)

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Ealing Film Studios

  • Lime Grove: Studio D

Deaths

  • Arbitan [killed by a Voord]

  • Voord [stabbed in the back]

  • Voord [falls into a sea of acid]

  • Morpho [destroyed by Barbara]

  • Darrius [dies during story's events]

  • Ice Soldier [falls into a chasm] 

  • Vasor [killed by an Ice Soldier]

  • Aydan [shot and killed by Kala]

  • Yartek [destroyed when the Conscience of Marinus explodes]

  • Eprin [murdered by Aydan]

  • Voord [stabbed]

  • Voord [caught up in an explosion]

Production Days

  • 7 Days between March - Friday 24 April 1964

Production Errors

  1. When a Voord falls through a revolving wall in episode one, a crew member can be seen very briefly

  2. The Voord who falls into the pool acid beneath the pyramid is clearly a two dimensional cutout model instead of an actor performing a stunt fall. 

  3. When Ian first enters the pyramid, somebody can be seen stumbling in the background 

  4. Towards the end of episode two, Barbara fails to break the glass dome housing the Morpho creature 

  5. Whilst Susan sleeps during episode two a camera can be seen casting a shadow on her

  6. There is a major timing issue between the episode one and the start of episode two. Barbara arrives in the City of Morphoton only a few seconds before the others. However she appears to have been there for several hours at the beginning of episode two - perhaps she slipped backwards in time

  7. During episode two, a boom microphone appear about William Russell, and the actor looks at it very briefly

  8. Whilst the camera performs a tracking shot around Darrius, the camera collides with the set and wobbles about

  9. The icicles seen during episode four are clearly made out of polystyrene 

  10. An Ice Soldier can be seen blinking several times during episode four before closing his eyes 

  11. The Voord which escorts Sabetha during episode six trips over his own feet

  12. Stephen Dartnell's (Yartek) eyes and mouth can be seen during a close-up in episode six

Working Titles

  • [no known working titles]

Verdict

The first adventure quest in the show’s narrative, The Keys of Marinus, is made of up of, not one, not two, but rather several mini-episodes tied together with one basic end goal. Whilst the entire story is somewhat fragmented, there is a whimsical but likeable similarity in the six episodes, where the story and narrative are never taken too seriously.

The plot explores various old and recycled science fiction tropes (mind control, hypnotic powers, aliens resembling giant brains etc.), which only appear for a single episode, play their part in the narrative, and disappear without a trace. Writer Terry Nation will later do a similar thing when writing many of his Doctor Who scripts over the years, which perhaps says something about his overall enthusiasm for the show. The best episode of the six ‘The Snows of Terror’ is intensely shot and is your basic survival-of-the-fittest storyline, with Francis de Wolff providing a memorable performance as Vasor. The weakest is ’Sentence of Death’ which centres round a poorly realised trial narrative with a pretty obvious villain working silently in the background.

The costume and sets design are generally remarkable but the supporting characters, especially most of the villains are rather weak. Yartek is the show’s first bland and forgettable antagonist. Yartek and the rest of the Voords can be summed up in one word – boring. Yartek’s weak personality traits and characteristics are an indication that Terry Nation probably forgot all about him, and just threw in some last minute ideas to give viewers an ‘intense’ confrontation and ‘climatic showdown’. Thankfully Yartek is only in one episode. It’s interesting that the production team tried to cash in on the Voords (Terry Nation’s second race of aliens for Doctor Who), but failed to create another nationwide phenomenon . It’s not that surprising that the Voords faded away from the public’s hearts and imagination, an indicator for how forgettable they are.

The Keys of Marinus has all the potential for being big and epic, but there’s only thing missing – money. Good story ideas with plenty of potential require a decent budget and various production blunders indicate a missed opportunity. Whilst this one is not entirely brilliant, it makes for good compelling entertainment, and that’s all Doctor Who, at the best of times, is meant to be. ***