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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"Your concern is noted. Please do not embarrass me."
The Sun Makers
Series: Doctor Who - TV Stories
Season Number: Season 15
Story Number: 95
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companions: Leela
K-9 Mark I
Setting: Pluto
Writer: Robert Holmes
Director: Pennant Roberts
Broadcast: 26th November - 17th December 1977
Format: 4 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: Image of the Fendahl
Following Story: Underworld



The TARDIS arrives in the future on the planet Pluto where there are now six suns, a breathable atmosphere and a large industrial community. The Company controls the planet and exploits the workers, pays them a pittance and then taxes them on everything imaginable. The Doctor and Leela join forces with an underground band of rebels led by a man named Mandrel.

They learn that the head of the Company's operations on Pluto, represented by the human official Gatherer Hade, is an Usurian known as the Collector. The Usurians enslave planets through economic means and then fleece the inhabitants with exorbitant taxes. The Company keeps the citizens in line by diffusing a calming gas, PCM, through the air conditioning system.

The Doctor manages to stop this, and the workers then rise up against the Company and hurl Gatherer Hade to his death from the roof of a tall building. The Doctor meanwhile gains access to the Company computer and programs it to apply a two per cent growth tax. The Collector, unable to cope with the loss of his profits, reverts to his natural form - a type of poisonous fungus - and is rendered harmless.


Mild-mannered Citizen Cordo, a low-ranking employee of The Company, is relieved to learn that his long-suffering father has died, but when he appears before Gatherer Hade to pay the death taxes, he is appalled to learn that the rates have increased. As he is only a D-grade laborer already working double-shifts, after interest penalties he'll never earn enough to pay the debt on top of his already substantial tax burden. The Gatherer is unsympathetic to Cordo's plight.

The TARDIS lands on the top of a thousand-story building in a vast urban complex on planet Pluto. The Doctor and Leela are enjoying the view when they spot a distraught Cordo preparing to plummet to his death. They pull him away from the ledge, and he pours out his financial sorrows to them. An alarm rings out - it is illegal for workers of his grade to view direct sunlight. The three flee.

Cordo has heard rumors of a network of tax-renegades, known as The Others, lurking in the depths of the city, and they soon stumble into their midst. Their reception, however, is less than friendly. The renegades, led by Mandrel, take Leela hostage to blackmail the Doctor into withdrawing 1000 Talmars from a Company ATM with a forged ConSum card. The Doctor is taken into custody, but is soon brought before a suspiciously apologetic Gatherer, presented with the 1000 Talmars, and released. He returns to the dumbfounded renegades, but he knows that the apology was a lie and that his movements are being tracked so that the renegade's hideout can be found. This finally motivates the renegades, up to now content with petty thieving, into fighting for their lives and overthrowing the Company. The Doctor summons K9 from the TARDIS to assist.

The Doctor realizes that the sweet smell in the air is actually a tranquilizing gas called PCM to keep the citizens docile. The renegades reach the PCM refinery and shut it down. They then overtake the communication center and broadcast a false report that the revolution is already underway, hoping to inspire the citizens to actually revolt. Once the tranquilizing gas begins to wear off, the revolution gains momentum. The Gatherer is captured and thrown off the roof, while his assistant Marn opts to join the rebels (albeit at gunpoint).

The Doctor reaches the office of the Collector, a bald-headed green-hued Usurian in a wheelchair, who is the CEO of the Pluto branch of the Company. Thousands of years earlier, the Company took over the Earth, which by then had fallen into economic decline - exhausted resources and starving populace - and relocated them to Mars, financing the enterprise through a program of oppressive taxation. Once Mars was exhausted, the Company relocated them to Pluto, incurring great expense to maintain the six artificial mini-suns that orbit the planet. Pluto's resources are nearing exhaustion as well, and the Company is planning to 'close' the Pluto branch, abandoning the citizens to their deaths. However, news of the Revolution and the resulting financial fallout - plus a 2% growth tax that the Doctor had programmed into his computer, causes the Collector so much emotional stress that he reverts to his natural form, a small bit of green slime, and he is easily bottled up. The liberated citizens plan to return to Earth, which by now has renewed itself.



  • A panel slams shut, trapping the Doctor inside the ATM capsule. As a klaxon blares, the capsule fills with tranquilizing gas, and the Doctor sinks unconscious to the floor.
  • Security guards close in on Leela, Cordo, and Bisham
  • The Doctor is running out of time to save Leela from being steamed alive in the condensation chamber.
  • The Doctor 'accidentally' causes the TARDIS to lurch, spilling the pieces of the chessgame he is about to lose to K9.




  • Droge of Gabrielides once offered a star system for the Doctor's head.
  • The Usurians have a file on Gallifrey.
  • Usarians are listed in Professor Thripsted's Flora and Fauna of the Universe as "parasitic fungi".
  • Three types of gas are mentioned: Dianane, a deadly poison (to which Usurians are immune), Balarium, a muscle neutraliser, which also effects speech, and Pentocyleinicmethylhydrane (PCM), an anxiety inducing agent (which also purpourtedly eliminates air-bourne infection).

Story Notes

  • Michael Keating (here playing Goudry) would later be cast as Vila in Blake's 7 based partially on this performance.
  • Most of the corridors were named after UK tax forms, as the story was intended as a satire of contemporary British taxes.
  • This story marks the last appearance of Leela's darker outfit. For the next two serials - her last - she would continue to wear the lighter (and more revealing) one.


  • Part 1 - 8.5 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 9.5 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 8.9 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 8.4 million viewers


to be added

Filming Locations

  • WD and HO Wills Tobacco Factory (now known as Imperial Park), Hartcliffe Way, Hartcliffe, Bristol
  • Camden Town Deep Tube Shelters, Stanmore Place, Camden Town, London
  • BBC Television Centre (TC3 and TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • At the start of Episode 2, the shadows of the extras playing the security guards are visible awaiting their cue to enter.
  • When the Gatherer is to be thrown off the roof by an angry mob it's quite obvious that it is a dummy.
  • A car park insignia is visible on the roof top.
  • How will the liberated humans prevent the artificial suns from burning-out now that the Usurian controlling them has been dispatched? The Doctor could have shown them how before leaving. It's also possible the Usurian was lying, to make the people believe they needed him.
  • Near to the end of part three after K-9 has exited the steamer, the Doctor praises K-9 with his scarf rolled out and lengthend down his body yet less than a second after when he is given a communicator it is roled up over his shoulders.


Video Releases

Released as Doctor Who: The Sun Makers.



Main article: Doctor Who and the Sunmakers

Novelised as Doctor Who and the Sunmakers by Terrance Dicks in 1982.

See also

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide to The Sun Makers
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - The Sun Makers
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel): Guide to The Sun Makers
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - The Sun Makers
  • The Tardis Library: Video release information for The Sun Makers
Season 15
Horror of Fang Rock  • The Invisible Enemy  • Image of the Fendahl  • The Sun Makers  • Underworld  • The Invasion of Time

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


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