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Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"Won't you show mercy to your own -"
―The Master
Planet of Fire
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 21
Story Number: 135
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Enemy: The Master
Writer: Peter Grimwade
Director: Fiona Cumming
Broadcast: 23rd February - 2nd March 1984
Format: 4 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: Resurrection of the Daleks
Following Story: The Caves of Androzani



On holiday in Lanzarote, a young American girl named Peri narrowly escapes drowning when she is rescued from the sea by Turlough and taken into the TARDIS to recover. The Doctor is on the island because the TARDIS has detected a mysterious signal being transmitted from an unknown artifact retrieved from the sea bed by Peri's stepfather, Howard Foster.

The Master reasserts his control over Kamelion and gets it to bring the TARDIS, along with the Doctor, Turlough and Peri, to the planet Sarn, where he is hoping to use that world's supply of revitalising numismaton gas to restore his body - accidentally shrunken in an experiment with his tissue compression eliminator weapon - to its correct size.

It transpires that amongst the Sarn natives, who worship a fire god named Logar, are political prisoners from Trion - Turlough's home world. Turlough too is revealed to be a political refugee. He meets his brother and later, when a spaceship arrives from his home world, discovers that Trion has granted an amnesty to all political prisoners.

The Master is apparently killed when a stream of numismaton gas in which he is bathing turns to a normal hot flame. The Doctor destroys Kamelion at the robot's own bidding as it has become completely unstable. Turlough leaves to return to Trion, while Peri goes with the Doctor.



Part One

On the desert world of Sarn, robed natives worship the fire god Logar and follow the Chief Elder, Timanov, who demands obedience. Those who dissent are known as Unbelievers, and two of them, Amyand and Roskal, cause unrest when they claim to have ventured to the top of the sacred fire mountain but not found Logar. One of the Sarns, Malkon, is known as the Chosen One because of the unusual double triangle symbol burnt into his skin: he is also unusual for having been found as a baby on the slopes of the fire mountain.

The same triangle symbol is found on a metal artefact uncovered in an archaeological dig in Lanzarote overseen by Professor Howard Foster. His stepdaughter Perpugilliam (usually called "Peri") Brown is bored with the dig and wants to go travelling in Morocco and when he seeks to prevent this she steals the strange artefact and tries to swim for freedom. Fortunately for her the TARDIS has landed nearby – responding to a distress call sent by the strange artefact - and Turlough sees her drowning and rescues her. Going through her possessions as she recovers he finds the artefact and acknowledges the same triangle symbol is burnt into his own flesh. The TARDIS arrives on the planet Sarn and the Doctor and Turlough venture outside, leaving Peri in the control room with, apparently, her stepfather Howard Foster. The latter is really a disguised Kamelion, however, and after closing the TARDIS doors he transforms into an image of the Master. Peri asks who he is, and he replies: "I am the Master, and you will obey me!"

Part Two

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS after attempting to triangulate the source of the signal being emitted by the artefact, and the ship dematerialises, seemingly on its own. It soon arrives on Sarn and the Doctor and Turlough set off to explore.

The Doctor's other companion, the android Kamelion, has meanwhile made mental contact with its old controller, the Master, who attempts to assert his control and change Kamelion's appearance from that of Howard. Kamelion tries to warn Peri of the Master but the Time Lord succeeds in gaining control. She flees the TARDIS with the creature in pursuit as the rumblings of the volcanoes of Sarn gather ferocity.

In the Sarn colony Timanov has damned the Unbelievers to be sacrificed to appease Logar and stop the tremors. They flee to a secret base in the mountains which is filled with seismological apparatus and which the Doctor and Turlough stumble across. The Doctor informs the Unbelievers that the tunnels, which have been their refuge are volcanic vents which will soon fill with molten lava. It is also established that Turlough is of the same race as those who colonised the planet, and when the indigenous people see his Misos Triangle, they greet him as a second Chosen One. Turlough realises Malkon may be his brother and becomes even more worried when Peri turns up and mentions the Master. The Kamelion-Master exhorts the people of Sarn to sacrifice the 'unbelievers' amongst them by throwing them into the flames of a furnace. The Doctor, who is one of those to be sacrificed, is seemingly powerless to prevent this...

Part Three

Another important figure in Sarn mythology is the Outsider, a promised prophet, and the Master/Kamelion fulfils this role admirably. He convinces Timanov of the appropriateness of harsh action and when the Doctor arrives with the Unbelievers they are all seized for burning. However, Malkon and Peri arrive shortly afterward and end this assault, though not before Malkon has been injured. Turlough is aghast when he finds his relative has been shot and the Doctor presses him for as much information as he has on the strange circumstances of Sarn. It seems it is a long abandoned Trion colony planet, and that Turlough, a Trion, suspects some of his family were sent here after a revolution against the hereditary leading clans of his homeworld. He supposes his father died in a crash but that Malkon survived, while he himself was sent in exile to Brendan School In England, overseen by a Trion agent masquerading as a solicitor in Chancery Lane.

The Master/Kamelion has meanwhile seized Peri and uses her to transport a black box into the control room of his TARDIS. It contains a miniature Master – the real thing – who has been shrunken and transformed by a disastrous experiment with his Tissue Compression Eliminator. Peri takes refuge in the Master's TARDIS. She sees a box on the floor and, lifting the lid, is shocked to find inside it the miniaturised form of the Master. He tells her: " You escaped from my slave, but you will obey me - or die! "

Part Four

The Master thus re-established the psychic link with Kamelion to gain the power of movement and has manoeuvred the robot to Sarn so that he can take advantage of the restorative powers of the Numismaton gas within the fire mountain.

Turlough realises the imminent volcano bursts will destroy the Sarn colony so nobly uses a functioning communication unit to get in touch with Trion and plead for a rescue ship to evacuate Sarn. In doing so he abandons his own freedom. When the ship later arrives, the Sarns all depart, along with Turlough and Malkon. They have both been pardoned in an amnesty issued by the new Sarn government. The only one to remain on the planet and face the erupting volcanoes is Timanov, now sure to die, his faith in tatters.

The Doctor meanwhile succeeds in weakening the Master's hold of Kamelion, and interrupts the numismaton experiment. He adds calorific gas to the numismaton surge and seemingly burns the Master alive. The Doctor also puts the terminally wounded Kamelion out of its misery. He returns to the TARDIS with a heavy heart, but with a new companion, Peri, for company.




  • Peri (Perpugilliam) Brown is a young American student, holidaying with her mother and archaeologist step father, Professor Howard Foster, on Lanzarote.
  • Peri's summer studying includes an ecology project. She has exams coming up, and her return flight is to New York.
  • According to Peri's passport she is from Pasadena, California and her birthdate is 15th November.
  • Vislor Turlough's rank is Junior Ensign Commander, he is from Trion, and he was on the losing side in the planet's civil war.
  • Turlough's father and brother Malkon were exiled to Sarn, where the Trions sent occasional prisoners. Such prisoners were branded with the Misos Triangle, and the indigenous population heralded them as leaders chosen by Logar, their fire god. Turlough's father died when the spacecraft crashed. The volcanic forces of Sarn were for a while kept in check by Trion scientists.
  • The volcanic activity on Sarn which will soon destroy the planet also produces numismaton gas, "an immensely rare catalytic reagent" with great healing properties.
  • The Master controls Kamelion forcing him to control the TARDIS.
  • The Master accidentally shrunk himself while adjusting his Tissue Compression Eliminator.
  • Peri compares the statue of Eros to Elton John.
  • The Master removes the temporal stabiliser from the Doctor's TARDIS, rendering it inoperable, Kamelion also removes the comparator, another vital circuit.

Story Notes

  • This story had the working title of: The Planet of Fear
  • Kamelion appears for the first time since The King's Demons the previous season; complications involving the robot model prevented him from appearing in other episodes, although a scene was filmed for The Awakening but cut before transmission. Kamelion "death" makes him the fourth known companion to die while travelling with the Doctor, following Katarina, Sara Kingdom, and Adric.
  • It was during production of this serial that Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant participated in their infamous "James Bond" photo shoot, in which Davison donned a tuxedo and prop gun and Bryant a bikini.
  • The H. Rider Haggard novel, She, whose title character renews herself periodically by bathing in a magic flame.
  • This is the only Fifth Doctor serial in which Janet Fielding does not appear.


  • Part 1 - 7.4 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 6.1 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 7.4 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 7.0 million viewers


  • The Master's ambiguous statement ("Would you show (no) mercy to one of your own...?") prior to his "demise" has led to ongoing speculation as to whether the Master might be the Doctor's brother or another relative. (The more likely explanation is he referring to their shared biology as Gallifreyans or status as Time Lords.)

Filming Locations

  • Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. This was the first Doctor Who story to include filming away from the European continent. To date only three other stories have included filming outside of Europe: Doctor Who (filmed entirely in Canada) and Daleks in Manhattan (which included second-unit photography done in New York City), and Planet of the Dead, which was partially filmed in Dubai. At the time this serial was made, the producers were planning to film part of The Two Doctors in the United States, but the location was later changed to Spain.
  • Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote
  • Orzola Jetty, Orzola, Lanzarote
  • Mirador del Rio, Lanzarote
  • Montañas del Fuego, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
  • BBC Television Centre (TC6 & TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • Peri is dry by the time Turlough brings her into the TARDIS.
  • The Doctor asks Amyand and Sorasta about Logar, despite having never heard the name before. This is incorrect. Logar is mentioned, albeit briefly, in the section of the scene directly proceeding the Doctor asking about him.
  • Peri can override the Master's control of Kamelion, but the Doctor can't. The Master's mental powers have been greatly diminished as a result of his accident. It is also suggested that the numismaton residue shields Kamelion from the Doctor's brainwaves.
  • Why is there a hollow turtle shell on the wall of the Master's miniaturised control room?
  • Where did the Master get the miniaturised equipment for his control room.
  • If the Master's gun is a Tissue Compression Eliminator, why does it compress Kamelion and the radiation suits? This was the very advancement the Master was trying to achieve when he had his accident - i.e. a TCE that works on inanimate matter as well. (Peri seems to be able to out-run its blast in episode three. The TCE was only ever meant as a short-range weapon.)
  • Why doesn't the TCE kill the Master, as it does his victims? Because what happened was the result with him experimenting with the power of the TCE, not merely shooting himself with it.



DVD and Video Releases

  • Released on video in UK and Australia / NZ in 1998 and the US in 1999.
  • It has been annonuced that this story and The King's Demons will be released in a Kamelion boxset in early 2010.


Main article: Planet of Fire (novelisation)

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: Planet of Fire
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - Planet of Fire
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): Planet of Fire
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - Planet of Fire
Season 21
Warriors of the Deep  • The Awakening  • Frontios  • Resurrection of the Daleks  • Planet of Fire  • The Caves of Androzani  • The Twin Dilemma
The Master - TV Stories
Terror of the Autons  • The Mind of Evil  • The Claws of Axos  • Colony in Space  • The Dæmons  • The Sea Devils  • The Time Monster  • Frontier in Space  • The Deadly Assassin  • The Keeper of Traken  • Logopolis  • Castrovalva  • Time-Flight  • The King's Demons  • The Five Doctors  • Planet of Fire  • The Mark of the Rani  • The Ultimate Foe  • Survival  • Doctor Who: The TV Movie  •
Utopia/ The Sound of Drums/ Last of the Time LordsThe End of Time

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


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