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The Curse of Fatal Death
Series: Doctor Who
Series Number:
Main character:
Companions: Emma
Setting: Tersurus
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: John Henderson
Producer: Sue Vertue
Broadcast: 12th March 1999
Format: 4 5-minute episodes
Prod. Code:
Previous Story:
Following Story:

The Curse of Fatal Death was a parody mini-episode, created as part of 1999's Red Nose Day.



The Master corners the Doctor and Emma on Tersurus, prepared to unleash the deadly vengeance of deadly revenge!


The Master pursues the Doctor in his TARDIS, manically bellowing that the Doctor's certain death awaits him on Zaston IV. The Doctor, from his own TARDIS, replies that the Master really ought to learn to turn off his speaker before he blabs his entire plan, and that he wants to meet him on the planet Tersurus to give him an important piece of news.

The Doctor and his assistant Emma land in a vast, empty castle on Tersurus. He explains that the Tersurons were a kindly, peace-loving race, but shunned and abhorred due to their communicating solely through precisely modulated farting, and destroyed themselves after discovering fire. The Master pins them to the wall with energy pulses, and, having arrived a century earlier to bribe the castle's architect, prepares to subject them to the Spikes of Doom. However the Doctor had anticipated this move and bribed the architect first, and instead they find themselves relaxing in the Sofa of Reasonable Comfort. However, the Master declares that he anticipated this, and bribed the architect even earlier, and drops a giant block on their heads. The Doctor and Emma emerge from a door in the (hollow) block, of course having arrived even earlier...

Emma interrupts and prompts the Doctor to announce what he has come to say: he and Emma are in love, and the Doctor plans to retire from travelling through time and space (having saved every planet in the Universe a minimum of 27 times), and settle down in domestic bliss.

Nauseated by this prospect, the Master announces that he will go back in time, buy the architect an expensive dinner, place a lever next to where he is standing, and a trap door where the Doctor and Emma are standing, and prepares to plunge them into the vast and disgusting sewers of Tersurus. However when he pulls said lever, the trap door opens under his own feet, the Doctor having bought the architect an expensive dinner earlier. As they go to leave, the front doors burst open and the Master appears, significantly aged, having spent 312 years climbing through the sewers, locating his TARDIS and travelling back in time to the current day. Accompanying him are the Daleks (the only creatures not repulsed by the Master's smell, having no noses). The Master boasts that his body have been augmented by Dalek technology: he now has a plunger in place of a right hand, though Emma points out that the Master doesn't know what it can do. The Daleks prepare to exterminate them, but the Master decides he will kill them himself. He charges forward, but the Doctor steps aside and the Master plunges straight through the trap door again. He comes in again, another 312 years older. The Daleks pursue the Doctor and Emma through the numerous (and very similar looking) corridors, but one Dalek accidentally bumps into the Master, causing him to fall through the trap door yet again...

The Daleks have captured the Doctor and Emma rather than exterminate them ("Why?" asks Emma, "I'll explain later," replies the Doctor) and tied them to chairs (the presence of which on a Dalek ship is also questioned by Emma, a Dalek simply replying "We will explain, later."). They've also restored the Master to his original age, and augmented him further... Dalek sensor bumps on his chest (etheric beam locators... and they're very firm), though the Doctor chafes the Master over the sensor's resemblance to breasts. The Master announces that in exchange, he has given the Daleks the secret to controlling a Zectronic energy beam, which will give them power over the entire universe ("How?" asks Emma, "I'll explain later," replies the Doctor). The Master charges up the beam, but the Dalek Supreme whispers to the Doctor that they plan to exterminate the Master after the beam is active. The Doctor realizes that both he and the Master speak fluent Terseran, so he farts a warning to him. The Daleks intercept the message, and blast the Doctor and the beam generator. The generator starts to overload, and is beyond the Master's capabilities to repair; only the Doctor can fix it. The Doctor tells Emma "I love you" (in Terseran, with the Master translating) before regenerating into a quite handsome, if a bit vain, persona. He confirms that Emma is still very much interested.

The Daleks beg the Doctor to help deactivate the Zectronic beam generator in exchange for his life, to which he agrees as a perfect way to finish his "career", but an explosion causes him to regenerate again, this time into a shy persona, very nervous around girls (especially the Master, with his oddly-placed etheric beam locators). He goes back to try once again to deactivate the beam, when another burst of energy causes him to regenerate yet again. The new Doctor, very handsome and charming indeed, is rather embarrassed that he wasted three bodies simply because he forgot to unplug the generator first. The crisis appears to be over, and Emma is quite looking forward to getting to know this new Doctor, when a residual burst of pure Zectronic energy knocks him down. With the Zectronic energy preventing his regeneration process from happening, the Doctor appears to die permanently. Both the Master and the Daleks, to honor the Doctor's supreme sacrifice, resolve to permanently forswear evil. Yet to everyone's amazement, the Doctor's features begin to change, and he regenerates, but this time into a very buxom woman. Emma, alas, doesn't swing that way, so the wedding is off. The new Doctor is quite excited to discover that her sonic screwdriver has three settings, but then she and the Master lock eyes, the two express their mutual attraction, and go off together.




to be added

Story Notes

  • Besides being broadcast on television, the special was also webcast worldwide. This was one of the first times such a production had been streamed over the Internet, and as such was the first Doctor Who webcast.
  • All the Dalek props and the TARDIS console were provided by fans; the console was reportedly built for the fan production Devious.
  • Joanna Lumley becomes the first woman to play the Doctor in an officially licenced (if non-canonical) production. The idea of the Doctor changing sexes during regeneration is not new, having been postulated as early as Tom Baker's time on the series.
  • Richard E. Grant played a different (and equally non-canonical) version of The Doctor in Scream of the Shalka.
  • The official series revisited the idea of the Doctor experiencing romance with his companion with Rose Tyler and River Song, as well as with Madame de Pompadour.
  • This was Steven Moffat's first televised script for Doctor Who. He wrote several acclaimed scripts for the 2005- revival and in 2008 was appointed the show's new executive producer. Coincidentally, his scripts included the romantic relationships with River and Madame de Pompadour cited, above.
  • In Doctor Who Confidential, Russel T. Davies claims that Hugh Grants' Doctor is one of his favorites.


to be added


  • Perhaps because of the 2005 series' dedication to the Children in Need charity, this production is often assumed to have been a CIN event. In fact, it was made for Comic Relief.
  • The title of the story is often misnamed The Curse of the Fatal Death.

Filming Locations

to be added

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • Why did the Doctor stay alive for a short while after being exterminated? Long enough even to break wind? There are instances in the classic series where the characters don't die straight away - like in DW: Resurrection of the Daleks. Also, in the new series the Tenth Doctor was able to hold the regeneration for a while DW: The Stolen Earth / Journey's End. Also remember this is a spoof.
  • Shouldn't the Twelfth Doctor become the Valeyard? The Valeyard's the manifestation of all the evil within the Doctor between the Doctor's twelfth and final incarnations, not his final incarnation.
  • How did the TARDIS get into the Dalek ship?


DVD, Video, and Other Releases

Cover of the Australian release.
  • Released on VHS containing the two-part story plus a "Making Of" feature and several other Doctor Who comedy skits which had been produced in the past. British, North American, and Australian editions of this release are known to exist. The special was never broadcast in North America (though it was viewable over the Internet), making this a video exclusive for that audience.
    • The Australian VHS release (right) used the diamond-logo and 1990s "Classic Series" fonts; the North American release used the current "Classic Series" logo and fonts.
  • The full story has also been released on iTunes as part of the Best of Comic Relief series. Money from each purchase is donated to the charity.
  • As of January 2010 no DVD release has occurred. The fact that BBC Video is in the process of reissuing all its VHS releases to that format, however, suggests the possibility of a future release of this nature.

See Also

External Links

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


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