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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"Never mind about the time slip. We're on holiday!"
―The Doctor
City of Death
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 17
Story Number: 105
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companions: Romana II
K-9 Mark II (offscreen)
Enemy: Scaroth of the Jagaroth
Writer: David Agnew (David Fisher, Douglas Adams and Graham Williams)
Director: Michael Hayes
Producer: Graham Williams
Broadcast: 29th September - 20th October 1979
Format: 4 25-minute episodes
Prod. Code: 5H
Previous Story: Destiny of the Daleks
Following Story: The Creature from the Pit

City of Death was the second story of Season 17 of Doctor Who. The first story to be filmed on location outside the UK, it was co-written by David Fisher, Douglas Adams and Graham Williams under the collective pseudonym of "David Agnew." It marked Julian Glover's second guest appearance on the series, and also featured a guest appearance by former Space: 1999 star Catherine Schell and cameos by comedic actors John Cleese and Eleanor Bron.



While taking in the sights of Paris in 1979, the Doctor and Romana sense that someone is tampering with time. Who is the mysterious Count Scarlioni? Why does he seem to have counterparts scattered through time? And just how many copies of the Mona Lisa did Leonardo da Vinci paint?, It is not known


The Jagaroth ship.

The following plot summary was adapted from one written by Chris Mento for the Doctor Who Reference Guide.

Part One

This episode begins roughly four billion years ago on Earth (although the dialogue repeatedly states "400 million" incorrectly), where the Jagaroth race are attempting to take off in their spaceship. However, the pilot, Scaroth, tries to take off too soon, and the ship lifts off and then explodes, seemingly killing everyone on board...

Paris, 1979. The Fourth Doctor and Romana II are at the top of the Eiffel Tower, admiring the view. It is then that the Doctor decides to take his companion to lunch at a particularly fine Parisian restaurant, and they decide to take the elevator (after briefly contemplating flying). They take the Paris Metro and cross several streets, in order to get to a place which the Doctor claims does a wonderful bouillabaisse.

At a château with gargoyle's face on one of its doors, a certain Professor Kerensky complains of lack of funds for the experiments he is conducting for his employer, a Count. The Count, named Carlos Scarlioni, gives him three million francs but the Professor insists that, while this is enough for now, he will certainly need more to keep the experiments going.

Once at the restaurant the pair realise experience a time distortion while an artist is sketching Romana, following the distortions they examine the sketch, they see that instead of Romana's face, there is a clock face.... with the face having a crack in it, almost like a crack in time, which the Doctor takes as gravely important. Romana suggests that they sit outside, just in case.

Meanwhile back at the château, Scarlioni is impressed by the Professor's demonstration even though it was heavily flawed. The Count wants very fast progress now and seems obsessed with time. He wants the next test today but Kerensky doesn't understand the urgency. The Count calls it a matter of time.

Meanwhile, the Doctor tells Romana that the time distortions must be a result of them moving through time fields so often. He then shows her the picture, causing her to sniff that Gallifreyan computers catch a far better likeness. The Doctor cannot believe this attitude: he will show her the meaning of art, and take her to the Louvre, one of the galaxy's greatest art galleries. He must show her a unique painting in the universe: the Mona Lisa.

Romana is not very impressed, and calls it "quite good"; at which point the Doctor loudly declares that it one of the finest pieces of art in the universe. A woman taking her students to the Mona Lisa and asks the Doctor if he can move along. Romana, having moved off for a few moments, returns and asks what she said. Before the Doctor can answer, there is another time slip back to the teacher approaching the Doctor. The Doctor stumbles into her, passes by others and then collapses onto a bench where a lady was reading.

A man in a trench coat gets the crowd out of the way and gets the Doctor on to the bench. When the man, Duggan, asks if he is all right, the Doctor tells him he just dented his head on his gun, Romana gets him up and takes him out. The lady nods to a man in a hat to follow. Duggan has already left, to follow the Doctor and Romana.

Duggan follows Romana and the Doctor while they walk through Paris when they arrive at another cafe, Romana tells the Doctor they have been followed. The Doctor knows "by that idiot with the gun". He tells Romana to look in her pocket. She removes a bracelet the Doctor removed from the woman in the Louve. It is a micromeson scanner which someone is using to monitor the alarms in the Louvre around the Mona Lisa. Romana thinks the bracelet is too advanced a piece of technology for a level 5 civilization. He tells her the bracelet is not the product of an Earth civilization. She asks if he means an alien is trying to steal the painting. Duggan, the man that was following them then turns up, pointing a gun into the Doctor's back.

The Doctor, Duggan and Romana are confronted by men sent by Countess Scarlioni to retrieve the bracelet he stole. Duggan believes the thugs were the Doctor's. The Doctor asks if Duggan is English. They ask Duggan who Scarlioni is. Everyone on Earth's heard of Count Scarlioni. The Doctor informs Duggan that they have only just arrived on Earth, who accepts this but doesn't really think the Doctor is serious. He gives up and is about to leave until the Doctor mentions someone might want to steal the Mona Lisa.

The Count tells his wife to tell Hermann to bring the three to the château.

At the café, Duggan has told Romana and the Doctor that masterpieces thought lost for centuries were turning up all over the place. He thinks they are extremely convincing fakes but they are "fakes" stand up to every scientific test. Two new thugs point guns at the trio and wants them to follow them.

Back at the château, the Countess asks Hermann where her husband is. He does not know; but he the Professor is resting in his room (if that helps). The Countess goes to the downstairs door but it is locked; she calls his name. Her husband stands before a mirror and removes his human face, revealing his true form: a one-eyed, green person.

Part Two

Scaroth of the Jagaroth.

Two thugs shove the Doctor, Romana and Duggan into the chateau. Hermann takes them to the lounge. Hermann shoves the Doctor in at gunpoint. The Doctor falls but gets up, delighted by “such a wonderful butler: he's so violent.” On his knees, he introduces Romana and Duggan and himself to the Countess. The Doctor crawls to a Louis Quinze chair and dismissing Hermann, he then invites himself to a drink and sits Romana and Duggan, preparing drinks for them too. He tells her he is a thief, Romana his assistant and Duggan the detective who caught him. When the Countess tells him she was under the impression that Duggan was following her, the Doctor says she is “a beautiful woman, probably” and that Duggan was most likely after a dinner date. She asks who sent him. The Countess lets him know that the more he tries to convince her that he is a fool she is more likely to think otherwise. Romana picks up a Chinese puzzle box and, although the Countess insists for her to put it down, as she will never solve it; she opens it in seconds and takes out the bracelet. The Count enters and takes the bracelet from her, and curiously seems happy to meet these strangers, although he insists upon knowing why the Doctor took his wife's bracelet. The Count dismisses the interview, making the Doctor jump up and talk of lunch with Duggan and Romana. When Duggan picks up a chair in defence, the Doctor asks what is it he thinks he is doing: it is, after all, a priceless Louis Quinze. Hermann is in a position to shoot Duggan so the Doctor bluffs that he cares more about the chair not being damaged, telling him to act civilised. The Count orders Hermann to show them the cellar they will be locked in.

As he enthusiastically leads the way into the cellar, the Doctor asks Hermann questions. He learns that the chateau was built about 400 or 500 years ago before Hermann refuses to say any more. The Doctor catches a glimpse of the equipment before Hermann locks them in a cellar closet and gives them a light which will last 2 or 3 hours; they have only one match. Duggan asks the Doctor what he is playing at - they could have escaped at least twice, but the Doctor tells him his plan: let them think they have them safe but then escape after finding out what they came for. He takes out the sonic screwdriver to open the door to the cell.

Romana calculates the horizontal length of the stairs and figures there must be another area of the room that is not seen. The Doctor, impressed by Romana's mathematical skill, wants to look at the lab first.

The Doctor and Romana examine the equipment, and the Doctor explains what is happening to Duggan. Kerensky comes down the stairs and Romana and Duggan hide. The Doctor, however, acts as though he has only just arrived and claims to be fascinated by the Professor's research, and Kerensky puts an egg in the middle of his desk, and activates the machinery. They watch the egg hatch and the chick inside grow to full size. The Doctor informs the Professor that he has got it all wrong.

Kerensky tells the Doctor that he is the world's foremost authority on temporal physics; the Doctor replies that the world is too small a place to boast about in such a way. When Kerensky says that world famine can be solved by this, the Doctor observes that the chicken has become a skeleton and died. He explains that he has got the principle wrong - he has created a different space-time continuum, but it is incompatible with their own: he can stretch time back and forward, but cannot break into it. The Doctor reverses the polarity of the machinery and the chicken reforms and becomes an egg again. Kerensky is very impressed, but admits that does not ask too many questions. The Doctor says that he should ask questions: that is a scientist's job. At this moment, the Doctor sees Scaroth's face in the time field. At the same moment, Duggan knocks out the Professor. Romana has found another room behind the wall in the place they were sealed up in.

Meanwhile the Count has created a mock-up of part of the Louvre to demonstrate his plan. He uses a sonic knife to cut through the glass with ease, and then uses his device to disrupt the air around the laser beams so he can get at the picture. The Count gives the Countess her bracelet back, saying she must wear it always. When she asks how he did it, he smiles enigmatically that he came from a family of geniuses.

The Doctor chisels on the brick, telling Romana that the Professor thinks he's breeding chickens but that Scarlioni is using the equipment to distort time. Duggan tells them there are seven people in his address book that would be willing to pay for the Mona Lisa for their private collection. To get through the last bit, the Doctor will need some machinery. Duggan obliges by knocking into the wall. Entering, the trio finds a cupboard with a Mona Lisa inside - one that the Doctor claims is the real one. He finds: five other "real" Mona Lisas. The Doctor recognises the pigment and the brushwork of Leonardo da Vinci. Duggan explains to the Doctor that if there was a Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre, no one would buy the others: they would each have to think they were buying the stolen one. The Doctor, impressed, puts a hand on Duggan's shoulder and says he would not make a very good criminal. The Count appears behind them and tells him, "No, good criminals don't get caught." Duggan knocks out Scarlioni allowing them to go upstairs and sneak back into the house, after knocking out the Countess, who was attempting to ambush them by herself. He asks Romana to look after Duggan as he leaves to meet a middle-aged Italian in the Renaissance age.

He arrives at the Denise Rene Art Gallery, which is closed for the night, where the TARDIS is parked. He goes inside and says hello to K-9, and asks how he is. The TARDIS then dematerialises.

The TARDIS materialises in Florence, Italy in the year 1505. The Doctor takes a moment to enjoy the Renaissance sunshine. He calls for Leonardo after whistling with some birds. He tells Leo that everyone loved the Last Supper and most of his other paintings; he asks if Leonardo remembers the Mona Lisa, “that dreadful woman with no eyebrows who wouldn't sit still.” The idea for the helicopter took a longer time to catch on, however. A soldier points a long sabre at his face. Leonardo is engaged on important work for Captain Tancredi. The Doctor gasps, as if he knows the name. The guard asks the Doctor if he knows the name, which he of course does not. The guard makes the Doctor sit. Tancredi will want to question the Doctor; the Doctor coincidentally wants to question him, too. The door opens and in walks Tancredi.

The Doctor asks the Captain what he is doing here. Tancredi moves forward and his face is that of Scarlioni but with longer hair, and he replies, "I think that is exactly the question that I ought to be asking you, Doctor..."

Part Three

Romana and Duggan, having broken into the Louvre, find a guard on the floor and that the alarms on the outside have been disabled. Duggan accidentally triggers the alarm in the process and he and Romana are forced to flee. They break out of a window (literally, in Duggan's case), split up and agree to meet back at the cafe.

Meanwhile, the professor has found the secret room, the other copies of the painting, and the unconscious Count. As the Count stirs, he talks in his slumber - we see that this is the same conversation as he is conducting with the Doctor more then four centuries earlier.

Back in Renaissance Italy, Tancredi wants to know how the Doctor came to be in this time and country. The Doctor rambles off an excuse, claiming he randomly "pops" out of time and space willy-nilly (but Tancredi's not fooled by this). Tancredi explains he is the last of the Jagaroth, and also their saviour. The Doctor has heard of the Jagaroth: they destroyed themselves in a war some 400 million years ago, and few escaped in a dilapidated spacecraft and found Earth in a primeval, lifeless stage of its development. The ship disintegrated upon take-off and Scaroth tells of how he was fractured in time, splinters of his being were scattered across time and space, all identical, none complete. Scaroth then asks what the mysterious blue box is. The Doctor avoids the answer, acting as though he has never seen it before; he finds the (original) Mona Lisa and realises the Count's plan to produce more Mona Lisas. While Scaroth collects the instruments of torture, the guard is instructed to confiscate the Doctor's tongue if the Doctor talks.

The Doctor tries to humour the guard, telling him Tancredi is mad, to no avail; the guard tells him that when you work for the Borgias, you believe anything. The Doctor districts and then knocks out his guard and then goes to the canvasses that would be used to paint the extra Mona Lisas writes "THIS IS A FAKE" in felt tip pen and puts them face down. He also writes a quick note to Leonardo, "Dear Leo, sorry to have missed you. Hope you're well. Sorry about the mess on the panels, just paint over them, there's a good chap. see you earlier, love the Doctor." Just as he is about to leave, Tancredi returns with the thumbscrews.

Romana painstakingly uses her sonic screwdriver to get into the closed cafe that night; Duggan just smashes a window and climbs in. As they discuss the Count's plan, Duggan has an epiphany: How did the Count know where the bricked-up Mona Lisas were and how did he know where to get them? Even Romana is stumped here.

The Count shows Kerensky the end product of his labours: what he will make. The professor cannot believe his eyes: the plan will increase the very part of the project that Kerensky was trying to eliminate. It can work both ways. Kerensky thinks it is monstrous, what he is trying to do. He will never, ever do such a thing. Anyway, even the Count cannot afford such equipment. At that moment, Hermann comes with the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. The Count tells the professor to continue with the work or he will die.

The thumbscrews are on the Doctor's hand and the Doctor winces - the guard's hands are cold. He cannot stand being tortured by someone with cold hands, so he reveals that he is a Time Lord. Tancredi asks about the girl and the Doctor stalls for time. As the guard moves to the thumbscrews, the Doctor asks a question - how he communicates with his other selves across time.

Back in 1979, the Countess gleefully talks to her husband about their recent heist. When she proudly thinks of the money they will receive after their monumental theft of the Mona Lisa, the Count brags about the building of the Pyramids, mapping the heavens, inventing the wheel and fire, and bringing up a whole race from nothing to save his own: he just wants a single life and to spare the lives of his people. He hears a voice and he asks his bemused spouse to leave him. Once she has gone, he communicates briefly with his 1505 self but it proves immensely draining for both selves. Taking advantage of the distraction, the Doctor escapes and dashes into the TARDIS. The guard attempts to tell the Captain but he is dismissed by Tancredi. All the various splinters of Scaroth appear and converse; there seem to be 12 of him, including versions living in ancient Egypt, Neanderthal days, and classical Rome. The Doctor watches him on the TARDIS scanner as he proclaims that the centuries dividing him will be undone. The TARDIS dematerialises. It is now that Scarlioni realises the truth about the Doctor and his girl...

The Doctor returns to the same museum in Paris, 1979.

Back in the cafe, Romana elects to leave a note for the Doctor - she feels their time would be better spent finding the real Mona Lisa. Romana then wonders if Scarlioni has found a way to travel through time; although there is but one flaw in this theory: Kerensky's machine cannot function: as she tells a bewildered Duggan, you can have two adjacent time continuums running at different rates by all means, but without a field interface stabilizer you can't cross from one to the other. Romana suggests they get back to the chateau.

Outside of the Louvre, two guards tell him the news that the Mona Lisa has been stolen. The Doctor goes inside and sees that it has indeed vanished.

The Doctor runs into the cafe and asks the bartender about the two people he was in with yesterday, reminding him that they were the people who kept being held up, attacked, breaking things... As the man turns to fetch a note, the Doctor confidently states that they wouldn't be mad enough to go back to the chateau. The bartender gives the Doctor Romana's note, which says that they have gone back to the chateau.

Romana and Duggan, having been caught already, are led into in the lounge by Hermann (with a gun) to converse with the Count. The Count tells Romana that the Doctor let it slip that she is an expert in temporal travel. The Count wants Romana to take a look at the equipment herself; if she refuses, he will destroy Paris. Upon seeing the equipment Romana, worried, tells Duggan that the Count can indeed destroy Paris by blasting the capital into an unstabilised time field. Duggan asks her if she believes in all this time travel nonsense, in reply she asks him whether he believes wood comes from trees - time travel is just something she was brought up with. Kerensky wants to know why all the talk of destruction - his work was surely not designed for malevolent reasons! The Count asks Kerensky go into the middle of the field cones; the field generator needs examination. Once the professor is in position, the Count turns on the machine. Romana and Duggan can only watch, helpless, as the Professor falls, and withers and ages, until nothing but a skeleton is left...

Part Four

The face of Scaroth appears on an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic scroll.

The Count reveals that it is the unstable time field that has destroyed the professor, and the whole of Paris is next unless Romana complies and tells him how to stabilise the time field. Although Romana pretends not to care about the welfare of humans or Paris, Scarlioni sees through this and orders Hermann to kill Duggan to reveal her true intentions. When she agrees to help him, Scaroth reveals his plans to her and orders that Duggan be locked up. Romana shall build a field interphase stabilizer...

An armed man, having caught the Doctor asks in the chateau, asks a maid to get the Count for him. The Doctor finds the Countess waiting for him.

Hermann tells the Count the Doctor has arrived, but he has already guessed this to be the case. As the Doctor enters a debate with the Countess about charm, discretion and blindness (specifically, the Countess's wilful blindness), he casually mentions the fact that a green, one-eyed chap is ransacking the treasures of the art world in order to save his species, the Jagoroth. At this moment Hermann arrives and takes the Time Lord down to meet his master, leaving the Countess to ponder on the thought. She removes a hidden book cabinet and takes out an ancient Egyptian scroll... only to find a one-eyed, green "god" exactly as the Doctor described!

Once in the lab, the Doctor asks Romana what she is building. It must be a Gallifreyan egg timer or some such - after all, he would be angry to find his assistant making a time machine. At this moment, Duggan asks politely if they could get him out of his cell. The Count demands the Doctor help him; of course the Time Lord refuses - after all, he is a trained professional. Romana insists all is fine - Scarlioni only wants to go back in time to reunite himself. He goes to say his final goodbyes to his wife, asking his butler to kill the trio any way he likes.

Upon entering the study, the Count finds his wife aiming a gun at him and demanding what on Earth she married. He smiles, informing her how easy it was to keep surprises from her - a fur coat here, a trinket there... It is now that Scaroth reveals his true visage, and thanks his wife for always wearing that bracelet he gave her. He activates it and it kills her instantly; he takes the opportunity to tell her it doesn't matter - soon, she will never have existed.

The Doctor blames Romana for giving Scaroth the missing component but Romana reveals her rigging. The Doctor tells her all he needs is one minute. If the Count is not splintered in time, all history will be changed. The two get an idea. They ask Duggan to knock over the door.

The trio run outs and faces a gun holding Jagaroth, which happens to be Scaroth in his real face. The Count is aware of the limitations Romana has put in the device. But he will go back and prevent the ship from exploding and himself from being splintered. As he vanishes in the time field, a blast destroys the time machine, rigged by the Count. That way the Doctor will not be able to read the settings on the dials. Duggan thinks it all over and wants a drink. The Doctor tells them they are going on a journey. Romana tells him 400 million years ago. Duggan thinking the pair mad follows them out of the building.

In the museum where the TARDIS is, a man and woman discuss the function of the sublime colours of the redundant TARDIS. Romana and Duggan follow the Doctor past these two, the Doctor tossing his scarf over his shoulder to almost hit the man and Romana. The trio go inside the TARDIS and it vanishes.

The Doctor is following the time trace made by the Jagaroth to 400 million years ago. The Doctor, upon getting out of the TARDIS on barren rock, tells Duggan that they are standing on what will be the bottom of the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Romana tells the Doctor that Duggan is out of his depth here. Using a telescope, the Doctor finds the Jagaroth ship. The Doctor finds the amniotic fluid from which all life on Earth will spring in the inert soup of low slurry. Amino acids form and fuse to make cells which develop into animal and vegetable life. Romana points out the Jaggaroth's ship's thrust motors are damaged and the idiots will try to take off on warp drive. The explosion which caused Scarlioni to splinter into time also caused the birth of the entire human race. Scaroth is there and calls to his brothers to stop trying to take off. The Doctor tells him he has thrown the dice once and he doesn't get a second chance. Duggan punches Scaroth down. The most important punch in history, the Doctor smiles. Scaroth's time is up and he vanishes. Duggan then points out that the ship is about to take off. The trio rush back into the TARDIS and it vanishes. The Jagaroth ship takes off and explodes, as it should. A mass of flame and radiation which ignites the slurry soup.

Scaroth reappears at the château within the time field. Hermann sees it and before the monster can convince him that it is the Count, Hermann picks up throws something at the equipment and causes the time field machine to blow up. A fire erupts, the stairs fall, and the Count is blasted out of existence.

On the Eiffel Tower, Romana, the Doctor, and Duggan talk about the fire. The only Mona Lisa not damaged in the fire has "THIS IS A FAKE" in felt tip written on its pallet. The Doctor tells Duggan serves "them" right. If you have to X ray something to see if it is good art... they might as well have computer painting like they have at home. Duggan asks where they are from. The Doctor uses his hands to say, "I suppose the best way to find out where you've come from is to find out where you're going and work backwards." Duggan asks where he is going. "I don't know," he says. Romana tells him she doesn't know either. The pair walks off toward the lift and the Doctor is laughing. Duggan buys a postcard of the Mona Lisa. He looks down at the small figures of Romana and the Doctor below the Eiffel Tower. The pair stops and wave.




  • The Doctor's TARDIS is still equipped with a randomiser, which sets co-ordinates for materialization randomly. The device was installed in order to throw the Black Guardian off of the trail of Romana and the Doctor in case the being desired revenge over the Key to Time incident. The Doctor is, however, still able to steer the TARDIS as usual if he chooses, as is shown by his short trip to the year 1505 and back to 1979.
  • Romana mentions several great galleries including Academius Stolaris on Sirius V, the Solarium Panatica on Stricium and the Braxiatel Collection.
  • On Gallifrey paintings are done by computers.
  • The Doctor has obviously visited Leonardo da Vinci before.
  • Scaroth has a sonic knife, which he uses to remove the glass from in front of the Mona Lisa.
  • Romana states her age as 125; she has clearly borrowed the Doctor's habit of lying about his age, as it was given as 140 in The Ribos Operation.
  • The term Time Lady is used for the first time.
  • Scarlioni has been selling a Gainsborough and moves to sell a Gutenberg Bible to fund his time experiments.
  • The Doctor mentions having met William Shakespeare and having written at least one copy of Hamlet for him, after Shakespeare sprained his wrist writing sonnets.
  • The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver which he notes he last used against the Daleks on Skaro.

Story Notes

Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, and Tom Chadbon on location at the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • The story is set in Paris, and was the first Doctor Who serial to feature footage filmed on location in a foreign country.
  • The title is possibly a play-on-words of Cité de l'amour (City of Love, as Paris is often known), and Cité de la mort (City of Death), the pronunciation of which is very similar.
  • Working titles for this story included Curse of the Sephiroth and A Gamble with Time.
  • The script is credited to "David Agnew", a department pseudonym used when members of the production team had to write the script rather than a contracted scriptwriter. In this case, the original scriptwriter for A Gamble with Time, David Fisher, was undergoing a divorce and was unable to complete the serial. As a result, Graham Williams and Douglas Adams rewrote it under the Agnew by-line.
  • The story originally involved the Countess using Scarlioni's bracelet to rig the roulette wheels at casinos in Paris and Monte Carlo in order to fund her husband's time experiments. However, Graham Williams ordered that this subplot be removed, to avoid children getting any wrong ideas of gambling.
  • "David Agnew" had written once before for the series, in DW: The Invasion of Time, where the pseudonym was used to hide the identities of Graham Williams and then-script editor Anthony Read.
  • Due to Adams's influence, the script has his distinctive brand of humour and dialogue. Adams reused part of the story's plot for Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (see also Shada).
  • Adams appears in an uncredited cameo as a man having a drink in a bar.
  • K-9 does not appear in this story, but no explanation is given for its absence.
  • Due to the ongoing ITV strike, all episodes of this serial, along with the previous Destiny of the Daleks, received very high ratings. This reached a peak with Episode 4, which got 16.1 million viewers, making it the highest rated Doctor Who episode ever. It is also very highly rated on fan polls, often cited as the best Doctor Who serial with which to introduce non-fans to the series.
  • Features guest appearances by Julian Glover, Catherine Schell, and David Graham, and cameo appearances by Eleanor Bron and John Cleese. Bron and Cleese both attempted to have their performances credited to pseudonyms, but the Radio Times declined.
  • This episode includes a line of dialogue in which the Doctor remarks that the Countess is a beautiful woman "probably", which has been used in fandom to suggest the Doctor's character doesn't, or shouldn't, acknowledge the attractiveness of his female companions, a point often brought up when debating the Doctor's romantic entanglements in the 1996 telefilm and the revived series. As it happens, Douglas Adams' previous teleplay, DW: The Pirate Planet includes dialogue in which the Doctor directly refers to Romana I as being attractive and having good looks (albeit not in a romantic context), suggesting he was perfectly capable of such considerations.Also within this story he does refer to Romana II as being pretty though she is not present at this time.
  • During broadcast of this story, Marvel Comics' UK branch launched Doctor Who Weekly, which continues to chronicle the Doctor Who franchise, now as Doctor Who Magazine, more than 30 years after it started.


  • Part 1 - 12.4 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 14.1 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 15.4 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 16.1 million viewers


  • The interaction between the Doctor and Romana in this story is often cited (among others) as proof that a more-than-platonic relationship existed between the two characters. The romantic setting aside, there's nothing in the episode to suggest anything beyond the traditional companion-Doctor relationship existed. It is true that at some point Tom Baker and Lalla Ward began a real-life romance that would culminate in their brief marriage in late 1980, but the writers of the day were careful to avoid the infamous "hanky panky in the TARDIS" accusation.

Filming Locations

  • Denise René Gallery, Boulevard St Germain, Paris
  • Place du Petit Pont, Paris
  • Petit Pont, Paris
  • Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
  • Rue Vieille du Temple (No 47), Paris, France (Used as front door to Count Scarlioni's cheateu)
  • Avenue des Champs Élysées, Paris, France
  • Avenue Kléber, Paris, France
  • Dupleix Métro Station, Paris, France (Station the Doctor and Romana get on at start of story)
  • Boissière Metro Station, Avenue Kléber, Paris (Station the Doctor and Romana get off at start of story)
  • Place de la Concorde, Paris, France
  • Trocadéro Metro Station, Place du Trocadéro, Paris
  • Louvre Museum, Rue de Rivoli, Paris
  • Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France
  • Boulevard de Grenelle, Paris
  • Bray Studios, Slough
  • BBC Television Centre (TC3 & TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • It's very unlikely a Human could withstand the earth's atmosphere 400 million years ago, yet Duggan, the Doctor or Romana do have a problem standing outside at that time. Duggan, maybe, but the Doctor and Romana being Time Lords likely could. Another possibility is that the TARDIS was protecting them as well.
  • How does the Doctor twice manage to direct the TARDIS to a specific point when the randomiser is installed? The sentience of the TARDIS has been long established, too, so it might have known to bypass the randomizer.
  • If the Countess has managed to go her entire married life without discovering that her husband is really a cycloptic, green-tentacled alien then either his skin suit is incredibly sophisticated to hold up to such intimate scrutiny, or their marriage is unconsummated. (Both are possibilities. It was only ever a marriage of convenience, and some aliens [including the Slitheen] have been seen to possess the ability to use "fully functional" human bodies as disguises.)


  • In ST: Notre Dame du Temps, the Seventh Doctor returns to Paris to pick up the picture of Romana that the artist discarded.
  • BFA: Dust Breeding reveals that the Doctor rescued one of the Mona Lisas for his own private collection.
  • The Braxiatel Collection first mentioned here appears in NA: Theatre of War'.
  • In EDA: Anachrophobia there are people who appear very similar to the drawing of Romana.
  • The Doctor mentions meeting Shakespeare. He does so (in order from Doctor's perspective) in BFA: The Kingmaker, BFA: The Time of the Daleks and DW: The Shakespeare Code. However, the specific reference to meeting Shakespeare did not occur in any of those instances. It was at a later point in Shakespeare's life, so the fact that he did not know the Doctor in DW: The Shakespeare Code is still consistent with this story.
  • At some point not long after this adventure, the Doctor and Romana return to Paris in the year 2000, prompting Romana to ask if the Randomizer only has a few settings. (IDW: The Forgotten)
  • In MA:The Sands of Time, the Doctor makes an offhand reference to Scaroth being involved in the construction of the Pyramids.
  • The Doctor explains that he "reversed the polarity" of Kerensky's machine. This phrase is usually associated with the Third Doctor, but is occasionally uttered by his other incarnations.
  • In SJA: Mona Lisa's Revenge, one copy of the Mona Lisa is revealed to have been painted with paint made from sentient meteor rock and it comes alive.

DVD, Video and Other Releases

1991 VHS release
2001 VHS release
UK 2005 DVD release
US 2005 DVD release


  • The story was first released in the UK on VHS in July of 1991. An Australian release appeared in September of that same year. It was released in the US in May of 1994 with a slightly different cover (shown) than the original UK release. In 1998 it was released yet again in the US as part of the "Gateway Collection" with the cover now featuring a border billing it as "The Best of Tom Baker as Dr. Who." A final repackaged release appeared in the UK in May 2001 featuring a new cover design.


  • Commentary by Michael Hayes (Director), Julian Glover (Scaroth) and Tom Chadbon (Duggan)
  • "Paris in the Springtime" — A 45-minute look at the making of this story, and in particular, the contribution of writer and script editor Douglas Adams.
  • "Paris, W12" — A rare look inside the TV studio during the recording of City of Death via extracts from recently recovered black and white studio tapes, with optional information subtitles.
  • "The Doctor Who Annual 1980" — This children's Annual published in 1979 is presented in its entirety (DVD-ROM only - PC/Mac).
  • "Prehistoric Landscapes" — A montage of unused model effects shots.
  • "Chicken Wrangler" — A montage of unused shots involving live chickens.
  • "Eye on... Blatchford" — An all-new comedy sketch telling the story of Sardoth, the Second-to-Last of the Jagaroth!
  • Photo Gallery
  • Part 4 of this release is slightly extended to insert the original BBC1 continuity for the following episode.


  • This is one of five Doctor Who serials that were never novelised by Target Books as they were unable to come to an agreement with Douglas Adams that would have allowed him or another writer to adapt the script. A fan group in New Zealand did publish an unofficial novelisation of the story. A significant portion of the plot was also used as the basis for Adams’ own novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

External Links

Season 17
Destiny of the Daleks  • City of Death  • The Creature from the Pit  • Nightmare of Eden  • The Horns of NimonShada
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at City_of_Death. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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

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