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2 - 23 September 1978

Average Viewing Figure: 8.1M


The Doctor is sent on a mission to find the six segments of The Key to Time and arrives on Ribos to find the first segment



Tom Baker (The Doctor), Mary Tamm (Romana), Cyril Luckham (The White Guardian), Iain Cuthbertson (Garron), Nigel Plaskitt (Unstoffe)

Paul Seed (Graff Vynda-K), Robert Keegan (Sholakh), Timothy Bateson (Binro), Ann Tirard (The Seeker), Prentis Hancock (Captain)

Oliver Maguire, John Hamill (Shrieves), John Leeson (K-9 Voice)

Uncredited Cast

Barry Summerford, David Young, Roy Brent, Yuri Gridneff (Shrieves), Nick Wilkinson, Stuart Fell (Shrivenzale)

Steve Ismay, Harry Fielder, Derek Chafer, Tony Snell (Levithian Guards), Pat Gorman (Kro)


Robert Holmes (Writer), Dudley Simpson (Incidental Music), Dick Mills (Special Sound), Jane Shirley (Production Assistant)

John Nathan-Turner (Production Unit Manager), Jimmy Purdie (Lighting), Richard Chubb (Sound), Dave Havard (Visual Effects Designer)

Dave Chapman (Electronic Effects Operator), John Turner (Video Tape Editor), June Hudson (Costume Designer)

Christine Walmesley-Cotham (Make-Up Artist), Anthony Head (Script Editor), Ken Ledsham (Designer), Graham Williams (Producer)

George Spenton-Foster (Director)

Uncredited Crew

Steven Drewett, Roger Turner (Visual Effects Assistants), Sue Thorne, Fred Law (Vision Mixer), Peter Grainger (Technical Manager)

Martin Ridout (Grams Operator), Juliette Mayer, Suzanne Jansen, Denise Baron (Make-Up Assistants), Wendy Plowright (Director's Assitant)

Richard Cox (Assistant Floor Manager), Peter Leslie (Floor Assistant)


Filming Locations

  • Television Centre: Studio 4


  • Graff Vynda-K [killed in an explosion]

  • Sholakh [killed in a rock fall]

  • Binro [shot and killed]

  • The Seeker [shot and killed by Graff Vynda-K]

Number of Production Days: 5

Production Days

  • 5 Days between Sunday 9 - Tuesday 25 April 1977

Production Errors

  1. When The Captain examines the door leading to the Shrivenzale, he turns to his right - the same direction where Romana is hiding - yet he somehow misses her 

  2. When K9 goes into the holes towards the end of part three, he enters nose first. However, when he emerges in part four, he has turned around 

  3. When the jethrik changes into the segment, Romana's grip on the tracer changes during the transformation

Working Titles

  • Operation

  • The Galactic Conman


The Ribos Operation is one of those serials which is so likable it is quite hard to find anything wrong with it. Wonderful costumes, sets and some of Simpson's best music create an almost winter-wonderland world filled with magic in every corner. The cast is very memorable the best being Iain Cuthbertson as conman Garron, a very likable character who is just a joy to watch. There is something just so likable about listening to someone take pride in their mischievous activities. The Shrivenzale is surprisingly very operational and makes for an intriguing monster. Holmes, who is back on form, adds humour with every possible opportunity and always results in a chuckle. An all around brilliant production which is very hard to dislike. If one were to go and find someone wrong with it they would be knee deep in Ribos’ snow before they succeeded. Lovely. *****  ​

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