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The King's Demons
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 20
Story Number: 129
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Enemy: The Master
Kamelion (while under the Master's control)
Setting: England; 3rd and 4th March 1215
Writer: Terence Dudley
Director: Tony Virgo
Broadcast: 15th March - 16th March 1983
Format: 2 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: Enlightenment
Following Story: The Five Doctors
"We sing in praise of total war... "
―King John

The King's Demons was the sixth story of Season 20. Technically it marked the end of the season, however later in the year the anniversary special The Five Doctors was broadcast, and it is generally considered the conclusion of Season 20. This story marked the debut of Kamelion, the first-ever non-humanoid companion.



The Doctor and his companions arrive at a medieval joust and are surprised to be greeted warmly by King John, who calls them his demons. But when a young nobleman returns, having just left King John in London, the Doctor realizes that this king must be an impostor! Then the Master makes an appearance and the Doctor's worst fears are confirmed...


Part One

In 1215, the Court of John of England/King John of England is at the castle of Sir Ranulf Fitzwilliam to extort more taxes, and when the lord refuses to pay the King insults him. To defend his honour his son Hugh takes on the King’s champion, Sir Gilles Estram, in a joust. The latter wins easily, though the joust is disturbed by the arrival of the TARDIS. The Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough are greeted as demons and welcomed by the King.

Having established the date, the Doctor concludes the King is not himself - in fact, he is not the King at all, as he is actually in London taking the Crusader’s Oath. Sir Geoffrey de Lacy, the cousin of Sir Ranulf, arrives at the castle and confirms he knows the King is in London. Sir Gilles is about to torture him as a liar during a royal banquet when the Doctor intervenes. It seems the King's champion is not who he claims to be, either: Sir Gilles sheds his disguise and reveals himself to be the Doctor’s arch nemesis, the Master, who aims his tissue compression eliminator at the Doctor...

Part Two

The Master flees in his own TARDIS, which had been disguised as an iron maiden (torture device). The King knights the Doctor as his new champion, and he is given run of the castle. After a series of mishaps, including the death of Sir Geoffrey at the Master's hands, the Doctor confronts the King and the Master and discovers the truth. The monarch is really Kamelion, a war weapon found by the Master on Xeriphas, which can be mentally controlled and used to adopt disguises and personas. Disguised as King John, the Master intends that Kamelion will behave so appallingly so as to provoke a rebellion and topple the real King from his throne, thus robbing the world of Magna Carta, the foundation of parliamentary democracy. It is a small plan on the Master's usual scale, but nevertheless particularly damaging to the normal progress of Earth society.

The Doctor resolves the situation by testing the Master in a battle of wills for control over Kamelion. He takes control of the robot and steals it away in the TARDIS, thus foiling the Master’s scheme. Kamelion reverts to its robot form and thanks the Doctor for his assistance and rescue. To Turlough's surprise and Tegan's dismay, the Doctor accepts Kamelion as a new travelling companion aboard the TARDIS. Tegan insists that she does not wish to be returned home, however, and the Doctor admits that the co-ordinates are already set for the Eye of Orion.




Story Notes

  • This story had working titles of; The Android, The Demons, A Knight's Tale, Demons Keeper.
  • Part One was promoted by the BBC as the 600th Doctor Who episode.
  • In order to conceal the fact that the Master featured in this story the Radio Times credited him as Sir Gilles Estram played by James Stoker - 'Estram' being an anagram of 'Master' and 'James Stoker' being an anagram of 'Master's joke'.
  • This story marks the debut appearance of short-lived new 'companion' Kamelion - in reality a computer controlled, sound activated, animated robot created by software designer Mike Power and computer hardware expert Chris Padmore of a firm called CP Cybernetics.


  • Part One - 5.8 million viewers
  • Part Two - 7.2 million viewers


  • This story was originally to feature the Meddling Monk. (There is no evidence that this was the original intention. Fan speculation postulates this due to its medieval setting and the fact that The Master's scheme in this story is more similar to the Monk's modus operandi than his own usual more grandiose schemes. Whether it would have been as the Monk or a later regeneration of the same Time Lord, it would have involved recasting the part as Peter Butterworth, who originated the character in The Time Meddler, had died.)
  • The King's Demons used the same set as The Black Adder. (Not outside the realm of possibility--both were BBC productions, and were filmed at roughly the same time (late 1982/early 1983)--but there's no particular reason to think it's true, either, and no evidence that it's anything but an Internet rumour.)

Filming Locations

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • What happened to the desire Turlough expressed to return home at the end of Enlightenment? He could have had a change of heart, the Doctor might not have been able to steer the TARDIS back to Trion during the right era, or there was an intervening, untelevised adventure where they did make it back, but Turlough decided to stay with the Doctor for the timebeing.
  • Much of the history in this story doesn't make sense or is wrong:
  • The Master's iron maiden TARDIS has an anachronistic Elizabethan ruff. Sloppy use of the chameleon circuit by the Master. The locals wouldn't have realized it as anachronistic, merely a little odd-looking of an iron maiden.
  • The Magna Carta's importance was fabricated in the 17th century: it achieved very little in the 13th century. Taking into account the Master's ironic and smug smile when the Doctor proposes Magna Carta as the reason for today's scheme, it might well be that the Master was after something much more interesting and neglected to tell what it was.
  • French was still the language of the court in the early 13th century, so why does only Sir Gilles speak it? Logically, with the Doctor's universal translator, everybody, even Sir Gilles should be speaking English.


  • In the final TARDIS scene of the story, the Doctor introduces Tegan to the android that is Kamelion. He says that Kamelion's story "appears to begin on Xeriphas" and that it will "end with the Master". This neatly ties together both the other televised stories that have anything to do with Kamelion: the introduction of the race that created him in DW: Time-Flight and his eventual demise in Planet of Fire. Kamelion was the product of a race that had invaded Xeriphas, not of the Xeraphins themselves.
  • The Doctor re-establishes himself as a fair swordsman, having shown skill with a blade in both his third (DW: The Time Warrior) and fourth selves (DW: The Masque of Mandragora, The Androids of Tara). In fact this is the second sword fight between the Doctor and the Master. As in the first such contest (DW: The Sea Devils), the Doctor shows the greater skill. His abilities in this arena are again displayed by his tenth self. (DW:The Christmas Invasion)
  • The story (and, thus, the season) ends in a minor cliffhanger, although it is unlikely initial viewers will have thought of it as such. Much like the link between DW: Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Death to the Daleks, the Doctor here offers to take his companions to a "wonder" of the universe, later referenced in the following story. Unlike the similar promise the Third Doctor makes to take Sarah Jane to Florana, however, the Fifth Doctor's vow to Tegan and Turlough is actually fulfilled. He proposes to take them to the Eye of Orion, the initial setting for The Five Doctors.
  • There probably was a real Sir Gilles, whom the Master killed and impersonated. In MA:Sanctuary, set in 1242, the Doctor meets a relative of the real Sir Gilles, whose true fate was never known.


DVD and Video Releases

  • The King's Demons was released on video by BBC Worldwide in November 1995 as part of a boxed set with the Special Edition version of The Five Doctors.
  •  It has been announced that this story and Planet Of Fire will be released in a Kamelion boxset in early 2010.


Main article: The King's Demons (novelisation)

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: The King's Demons
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - The King's Demons
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): The King's Demons
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - The King's Demons
Season 20
Arc of Infinity  • Snakedance  • Mawdryn Undead  • Terminus  • Enlightenment  • The King's Demons  
20th Anniversary Special: The Five Doctors
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 "The King's Demons" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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