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"The Monk's got a TARDIS!"
The Time Meddler
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 2
Story Number: 17
Doctor: First Doctor
Companions: Vicki
Steven Taylor
Enemy: The Monk
Setting: 1066
Writer: Dennis Spooner
Director: Douglas Camfield
Broadcast: 3rd July -
24th July 1965
Format: 4 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: The Chase
Following Story: Galaxy 4

The Time Meddler was the ninth and final story of Season 2 of Doctor Who. This story was the first pseudo-historical - an historical story with sci-fi elements other than the regular characters and the TARDIS. (Although there were sci-fi elements mixed with historical facts in a portion of The Chase, this was the first full story to combine the two.) The Monk, the first Time Lord other than the Doctor and Susan Foreman to be seen in the series, also became the show's first recurring individual villain.



The Doctor, Vicki, and new companion Steven Taylor arrive in Saxon Northumbria on the eve of the Viking and Norman invasions. It is 1066, a pivotal moment in British history, and the hand of a mysterious Monk is at work in the nearby monastery.


The Watcher (1)

The Doctor and Vicki are surprised to find Steven Taylor aboard the TARDIS. In a disorientated state on Mechanus, he stumbled aboard the ship and has stowed away. They are grateful he survived the collapse of the Mechanoid City and help nurse him back to health, but when the TARDIS lands on a rocky beach and they all step outside Steven takes some convincing that the TARDIS has really been able to travel in space and time.

They have in fact arrived in 1066 on the coast of Northumbria, and their arrival has been witnessed by a Monk who does not seem phased by the materialisation; and also by a Saxon villager called Eldred who runs to tell the headman of his village, Wulnoth, what he has seen. Once outside, the Doctor establishes the century from a discarded Viking helmet and heads off to the village while Steven and Vicki explore the cliffs above. The Doctor encounters Edith, Wulnoth's wife, and convinces her he is a harmless traveller while probing her for more information. He soon finds out it is 1066, since Harold Godwinson is on the throne and has not yet faced Harold Hardrada at Stamford Bridge let alone William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings. He then turns his attention to the nearby monastery, at which monks are chanting despite only one of them ever being seen, and determines to visit the building. When he gets there the Monk lets him in without revealing himself and then allows the Doctor to prowl around. He finds a gramophone playing the monastic chanting, and the Monk also has modern conveniences such as a toaster and a manufactured teapot. The Monk is clearly a clever meddler. Indeed, the Monk soon has the upper hand and manages to trap the Doctor in a makeshift cell.

The Meddling Monk (2)

Steven and Vicki have meanwhile encountered a local trapper and noticed his possession of a wristwatch – the same watch that the Monk dropped earlier. They spend the night in a clearing and the next morning head off back to the TARDIS, little realising Wulnoth has overheard them. Within minutes they are ambushed by the Saxons and taken to the village council. After a heated discussion they convince Wulnoth they are but travellers and are given some provisions to travel on, though Vicki is equally heartened to hear from Edith that the Doctor passed by her hut on his way to the monastery. Steven and Vicki decide to visit the monastery next to try and find their missing friend. The Monk tries to dissuade them from entering but gives himself away by describing the Doctor too accurately, and so Steven and Vicki decide he must be a prisoner inside the monastery. They decide to break in after dark.

The Monk has meanwhile been surveying the seas with a telescope and is pleased to finally sight a Viking ship on the horizon. Soon the Vikings land and two small groups are sent to search the area, with one group of three heading toward the Saxon village. One of the Vikings finds and attacks Edith, leaving her traumatised, and in response the Saxons round up a posse and go hunting for the invaders. The three Vikings are drunk when they are found and the giant that attacked Edith is cut down, though his companions Sven and Ulf manage to flee. Eldred too has been badly wounded and when he is returned to the Saxon village Edith decides he would benefit from treatment at the monastery.

At the Monk's lair Steven and Vicki have stolen in under cover of darkness. They too find the gramophone and are stunned. Meanwhile the Monk has spied them but is prevented from dealing with them by the arrival of the Saxons at the door bearing the injured Eldred, whom Wulnoth insists is taken into the Monk's care. Steven and Vicki have meanwhile found the cell empty bar the Doctor's cloak and they then manage to leave the monastery via a secret passage.

A Battle of Wits (3)

The Doctor has actually taken the same passage himself and returns to Edith in the Saxon village. He soon hears of the Viking invasion scouting party and, upon leaving Edith's house, decides to head back to the monastery to track down Steven and Vicki, having learned they have gone there. By chance this is the same course of action they too decide upon, having first discovered an atomic bazooka pointing out to sea at the beach near the TARDIS, though the ship has now been submerged beneath the incoming tide.

The Monk is intent on using the Vikings for his own ends and, once Wulnoth has departed his monastery, produces an elaborate check list that builds to a meeting with King Harold himself. There is another knock at the monastery door and this time it is the Doctor who has the upper hand when the door is answered. Fooled into thinking he is being held at gunpoint, the Monk is marched back inside and is about to answer a few questions when there is yet another knock at the door. When the Doctor and Monk answer they are overpowered by the two Vikings, Sven and Ulf. In the ensuing confrontation the Monk is able to slip away, leaving the Doctor as the Viking prisoner. It is a state of play that does not last long. The Doctor knocks out Sven and then ensures Ulf is securely tied up.

The Monk has meanwhile used his freedom to persuade the villagers to light beacon fires on the cliff tops, lying that he is expecting materials by sea when in fact he wishes to lure the Viking fleet to land nearby. Wulnoth says he will light the fires, but does not do so as he realises the danger.

Steven and Vicki return to the monastery via the secret passage and investigate the crypt, where a heavy power cable emanates from a sarcophagus. When the look inside it is clear the Monk has his own TARDIS – he must be of the same species as the Doctor (though the term Time Lord is not used).

Checkmate (4)

The Monk has meanwhile returned to the monastery and is once more under the Doctor's control. He reveals his plan is not to help the Vikings but to lure them to the coast where he hoped to destroy the invasion fleet with atomic bazookas. This would prevent the Viking invasion and thereby shore up King Harold to such an extent he would then not lose the Battle of Hastings. In short, the Monk is a Time Meddler who left the Doctor's own planet some fifty years after the Doctor himself. Steven and Vicki have found further evidence of his meddling in his TARDIS: a journal recording his meeting with Leonardo da Vinci to discuss powered flight, providing anti-gravity lifts to help build Stonehenge, and using time travel to collect a fortune in compound interest from a bank. The Doctor denounces the Monk for seeking to alter history and forces him to reveal his TARDIS, where they find Steven and Vicki. Together the time travellers piece together the Monk's immoral plot. Which the Monk insists is intended to stabilise England and benefit Western civilisation.

The Vikings have meanwhile freed themselves from their bonds and decide to avenge themselves on the monks who have imprisoned them. Eldred spots them and, despite his injuries, flees to the village where he raises Wulnoth and a squad of Saxons to deal with the marauders.

At the monastery the tables have turned. Ulf and Sven have formed a contrived alliance with the Monk and have tied up the Doctor's party while the three of them decide to take the neutron grenades down to the cannons on the beach. The scheme is foiled however when the Saxons arrive and engage the fleeing Vikings in a nearby clearing, presumably killing Sven and Ulf in battle.

The Monk hides while this fighting rages, little knowing that the Doctor and his friends have been freed and are tampering with his TARDIS. With his scheme in ruins, the Monk decides to leave and returns his TARDIS, though the Doctor has gone and left but a note assuring the Monk has meddling days are ended. When the Monk looks inside his TARDIS he realises the Doctor has disabled the dimensional stabiliser and the interior of his ship has shrunk beyond use, leaving him stranded in 1066 with an angry band of Saxons nearby. The tide having gone out, the Doctor and his friends are, however, free to leave this primitive time in their TARDIS, and journey onward to the stars.




  • This is the first time we meet another member of the Doctor's race, from a time fifty years after the Doctor left his homeworld, which is not named in this story.
  • The Monk, unlike the Doctor, has control of both the landings of his TARDIS and its exterior; his TARDIS is a Mark IV.
  • The Doctor removes the dimensional control unit from the Monk's TARDIS, thus shrinking its interior and leaving the meddler marooned.

Story Notes

  • The Time Meddler is the first example of what is known in Doctor Who as the "pseudohistorical" story, as opposed to the pure historical stories, which are set in the past but have no science fictional elements attached to them.
  • This is the first story in which the acronym TARDIS is said to stand for "Time and Relative Dimensions in Space", rather than the singular "Dimension" as had been used in An Unearthly Child. This was an error made by Maureen O'Brien during recording, and was retained throughout much of the series' history.
  • The working title for this story was The Monk.
  • The working title of episode 1 was The Paradox.
  • All episodes exist as 16mm telerecordings.
  • A print of episode 2 is held in the Film & TV Library.
  • Incomplete prints of all episodes were found in Nigeria in 1985.
  • Complete prints of episodes 1 and 3 were returned to the archive in 1992.
  • Sequences showing a Saxon being stabbed in episode 4 are still missing from the print.
  • Telesnaps for this episode are held by a private collector.
  • During production of this story, new producer John Wiles began taking over production duties.
  • William Hartnell, displeased at the number of changes the production underwent, play-acted throwing a temper tantrum during the rehearsal of this story.
  • William Hartnell does not appear in The Meddling Monk as the actor was on holiday.
  • No next episode caption is present on episode 4. Instead, an extended version of the theme music is heard as images of the three lead actors appear on screen.
  • Some versions of this story, especially those distributed in the US, cut the first few minutes of the story in which the Doctor and Vicki find Steven hiding in the TARDIS.


  • The Watcher - 8.9 million viewers
  • The Meddling Monk - 8.8 million viewers
  • A Battle of Wits - 7.7 million viewers
  • Checkmate - 8.3 million viewers


  • Peter Butterworth was chosen because of his roles in Carry On films. (He did not appear in a Carry On film until August 1965.)
  • The Doctors race are identified as Gallifreyans. (The word Gallifrey is not used until the Third Doctor story The Time Warrior.)
  • Due to the fact Episode 4 ends with no lead-in to the next serial and instead ends with a unique sign-off showing closeups of the three leads, it's been suggested that perhaps this was at one point expected to be the final episode of the series. (The ending is indeed unusual, but there is no indication the series was in danger of cancellation at this point, given it was still the height of Dalekmania.)

Filming Locations

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors



DVD, Video and Other Releases

DVD Release


Video Release

Released as "Doctor Who: The Time Meddler"

UK Release: June 2000 / US Release: October 2003
PAL - BBC Video BBCV7275
NTSC - Warner Video E1854
Released as part of The First Doctor Collection in the UK
Released as part of The End of the Universe Collection in the US


Main article: The Time Meddler (novelisation)

See Also

External Links

  • Official BBC Episode Guide for The Time Meddler
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - The Time Meddler
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) entry for The Time Meddler
  • The Time Meddler entry at Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television
Season 2
Planet of Giants  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth  • The Rescue  • The Romans  • The Web Planet  • The Crusade  • The Space Museum  • The Chase  • The Time Meddler
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at The_Time_Meddler. 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 "The Time Meddler" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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