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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"It does seem to have been a long trip, somehow..."
―Claire Daly
Carnival of Monsters
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 10
Story Number: 66
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companions: Jo Grant
Enemy: Kalik, Drashigs
Setting: Inter Minor
Writer: Robert Holmes
Director: Barry Letts
Producer: Barry Letts
Broadcast: 27th January - 17th February 1973
Format: 4 25-minute Episodes
Prod. Code: PPP
Previous Story: The Three Doctors
Following Story: Frontier in Space

"Carnival of Monsters" was the second story of Season 10. It saw the Doctor go on his first adventure as a free roaming Time Lord after the end of his exile, and the first appearance of actor Ian Marter in the Doctor Who universe.



The Doctor and Jo arrive the SS Bernice, a cargo ship crossing the Indian Ocean. But things are not what they seem; a monster appears in the sea, events repeat themselves, and a giant hand steals the TARDIS. Investigation reveals that they are in fact inside a Miniscope, an alien peepshow sporting numerous miniaturised environments, which showman Vorg and his assistant Shirna have brought to amuse the populace of the planet Inter Minor.


Episode One

A small problem

At a spaceport on planet Inter Minor, travelling aliens Vorg and Shirna arrive and set up the Miniscope, a device inside which miniaturised creatures exist inside miniature versions of their natural habitats. Although Vorg's intentions aren't hostile, the natives greet him with suspicion and they deny him an entrance visa.

Meanwhile, the TARDIS materialises on the planet Metebelis 3 - so the Doctor says, but when he and Jo Grant explore their surroundings, they discover that they are in fact aboard the cargo ship SS Bernice as it sails across the Indian Ocean in 1926. The Doctor is sure that they are not on Earth, and it seems something is afoot when a plesiosaur rises from the sea. The Doctor and Jo meet Major Daly and his daughter Claire Daly, passengers terrified by the plesiosaur but who then forget about it. When the pair are caught by officer John Andrews, they are imprisoned, accused of being stowaways. Confined to a cabin, Jo notices a discrepancy: a clock in the room has gone back by over an hour in a few minutes. After escaping, they notice that Andrews, Daly and his daughter are repeating things they said and did when they met them before, and have forgotten about the meeting. The Doctor becomes interested in a mysterious hatch made of an alien alloy, and goes back to the TARDIS to retrieve a magnetic core extractor to open the hatch. As they reach the TARDIS, the Doctor and Jo are stunned as a giant hand swoops down out of nowhere and grabs the travel machine.

Episode Two

The Doctor and Jo inside the workings of the Scope

With the TARDIS outside the compression field of the Scope, it returns to its normal size. By now, the Doctor knows he is in a Miniscope, and to return to the TARDIS he and Jo must escape from the ship through the hatch, which leads to the inner workings of the Scope.

On Inter Minor, Vorg shows the mistrusting natives Kalik and Orum some of the creatures inside the scope, including Ogrons, Cybermen, Tellurians and Drashigs, huge deadly carnivores. As the tribunal members watch the events within the human environment, Vorg shows them the machine's capabilities by adjusting a dial which amplifies the specimens' hostility. Inside, the Doctor and Jo are captured, but Andrews chooses to fight the Doctor rather than imprison him. Using skills he learned from John L. Sullivan, the Doctor overpowers Andrews, allowing him and Jo to escape. They are chased across the deck, but make it to the hatch and find themselves in a place the Doctor describes as being like "inside a wristwatch". The tribunal on Inter Minor chooses to eradicate the illegal specimens inside the Scope, but the eradicator only damages the machine. The Doctor and Jo find another hatch inside and open it, and find themselves in another environment, an expanse of marshes, not what the Doctor was expecting. They turn to leave, but a Drashig rises from the marshes, ready for the kill.

Episode Three

A Drashig breaks through

The Doctor attacks the Drashigs using the sonic screwdriver, and he and Jo run for their lives, enough to reach the inner circuitry again, where the Doctor explains that earlier in his life he convinced the Time Lords to ban the use of Miniscopes. Jo is horrified that anyone would use such a device. They are troubled to find out that the Drashigs haven't given up their pursuit, and have broken into the circuitry as well. The pair find a deep shaft which leads to the bottom of the circuitry and the way out, so they return to the Bernice circuit to fetch a rope. Jo is caught by Andrews again, who has once again forgotten they have previously met.

There is trouble outside the Scope too. The tribunal are trying to have Vorg and Shirna deported, while the operators themselves have noticed the Drashigs have escaped from their circuit. When Kalik and Orum hear about this, they hatch a plan to let the Drashigs escape the machine and cause havoc, forcing the President to resign. The Drashigs have now broken into the human environment but is shot down by the crew. With a rope, the Doctor climbs down to the bottom of the shaft and exits the machine.

Episode Four

The Doctor escapes

There is commotion on Inter Minor as the Doctor grows to his normal size. The Doctor confronts the tribunal about their allowing the Scope on their planet, and is horrified that Vorg and Shirna are more concerned with claiming insurance on the loss of livestock than saving the lives inside the Scope. The Doctor ventures back inside the machine, while the tribunal sabotage the eradicator to leave the city defenceless against the Drashigs, who finally escape and grow to formidable size. Fortunately, Vorg repairs the eradicator and turns it on the Drashigs. Kalik has also damaged the Scope, causing it to overheat. Inside, Jo escapes yet another capture by the crew of the Bernice and is reunited with the Doctor, but they are overcome by the heat. They are brought back by Vorg, who activates the device the Doctor left for him, which also returns the life-forms inside the Scope to their rightful places in space and time.

With the Scope inoperable, Vorg tries to gain enough credit bars to get home by entertaining the natives using the old shell trick, while the Doctor and Jo return to the TARDIS, ready for their next adventure.




  • The Doctor has heard of miniscopes. On his homeworld, the Doctor managed to convince the Time Lords to outlaw them, though obviously at least one of them survived.
  • The Doctor fails to understand Vorg's polari.
  • A Cyberman, Ogron and Drashig are all trapped within the miniscope and all returned to their home times.
  • The Doctor mentions (for the first time) Metebelis III, "the famous blue planet of the Acteon group".
  • On board the SS Bernice the Doctor orders a large scotch.
  • The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to ignite and explode the marsh gas.
  • The Doctor compares the disappearance of the Bernice crew to that of the Mary Celeste; an encounter between the Doctor and the Daleks was behind the disappearance of the earlier ship's crew, although the at the time the Doctor was unaware of what happened to the crew. (DW: The Chase)

Story Notes

  • This story features a guest appearance of Ian Marter, who would go on to play Harry Sullivan, and who had originally auditioned for the part of Mike Yates.
  • Working titles for this story included; The Labyrinth and Peepshow.


  • Episode 1 - 9.5 million viewers
  • Episode 2 - 9.0 million viewers
  • Episode 3 - 9.0 million viewers
  • Episode 4 - 9.2 million viewers


  • The second episode as seen on the BBC video release of this story, which is about four minutes longer than the one originally transmitted and features the abandoned Delaware synthesiser arrangement of the theme music, is a specially extended version. (It is a rough cut that was prepared during the original editing of the story and never intended for public consumption. It still exists only because BBC Enterprises inadvertently included it a package of episodes supplied to the Australian Broadcasting Company. The video release also erroneously includes a version of Episode Four prepared for a repeat transmission in 1981, which has a section missing from the closing scene.)

Filming Locations

  • Tillingham Marshes, Howe Farm, Tillingham, Essex
  • RFA Robert Dundas (as the SS Bernice)
  • Carwoods Quarry (now known as Asheldham Nature Reserve), Asheldham, Essex
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 4 & 6), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • The Doctor's expression of his desire to leave the SS Bernice in episode one because he 'doesn't like it' is possibly the most out-of-character, un-Doctor-ish thing he could have said. The Doctor has always enjoyed a good mystery, and if there are other humans involved, wouldn't he want to stay and help? He is still recovering from having all his memory blocks removed by the Time Lord's at the end of 'The Three Doctors' and this combined with his irritation at missing Metebelis III again, is making him feel greater anxiety than usual. He also is undoubtedly worried about Jo, with whom he has grown very close by this point. It's not unusual for him to show concern for himself or his companions when he senses something is wrong with a situation.
  • The 1926 calendar is wrong the date structure is that of 1925. The newspaper says it is 1926 and the Doctor mentions it.
  • In episode one the sound of a pencil dropping and rolling across the studio floor can be heard. Someone off-screen could have dropped something.
  • The Doctor is told that Vorg is in charge of the scope in episode four, but later he asks whether Vorg is in charge.
  • The Doctor is unable to understand Vorg when he begins speaking in a showman's dialect, even though the TARDIS usually translates all langauges.
  • Vorg claims he can't control the Drashigs (they're not intelligent) but he can control the Plesiosaur. Their minds are different.
  • When questioned by Jo about the banning of the miniscopes, the Doctor suggests that this one was missed, completely forgetting that they could be in a time before the ban. Presumably, a ban imposed by the Time Lords would have taken the form of removing all of the miniscopes before they actually started to be used, and hence the only way they could be in one is that this one was missed in the temporal purge.
  • The Drashigs are introduced twice in episode two. This was in an inadvertantly sold extended version that was rejected when it repeated material seen in other episodes.
  • Lots of wigs come unstuck. Wigs are popularly worn in some cultures.
  • When Shirna does her little dance, the wire leading to the Miniscope is visible.
  • The TARDIS doors are open when the Doctor steps out but instantly close when the giant hand reaches for it. It could be a part of a defense mechanism
  • The back of the Cyberman's head is loose
  • After entering the Miniscope, the Doctor helps Jo over a piece of equipment. As they walk off, the shadow of the boom mike moves over a white piece of the set in the upper right part of the screen.
  • Jo sinks waist-deep in the swamp, but by the time she reaches the cave, her trousers are dry.
  • The table Vorg plays his shell game on is clearly made of spray painted cardboard.
  • How can the SS Bernice have been missing if it returns to its time? It went astray despite what the Doctor said. Or it materialised in a different time, or the ship could have been sunk.
  • At 3 minutes 12 seconds, when the Doctor steps out of the TARDIS, you can clearly see they are just stepping out of a police box prop, as there is no TARDIS interior wall. Many times during the 63-89 series, we see the interior prop of the police box.
  • As Jo and The Doctor investigate the chickens in the cargo hold, the camera pans to the right and we can glimpse the edge of the set and the supports behind it.



DVD, Video and Other Releases

DVD Releases

Released as Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters



Video Releases

Released as Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters



Main article: Doctor Who and the Carnival of Monsters

See also

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: Carnival of Monsters
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - Carnival of Monsters
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): Carnival of Monsters
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - Carnival of Monsters
Season 10
The Three Doctors  • Carnival of Monsters  • Frontier in Space  • Planet of the Daleks  • The Green Death

This article uses material from the "Carnival of Monsters" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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