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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"Oh, it's pathetic. When did they last show something worth watching, eh?"
Vengeance on Varos
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 22
Story Number: 139
Doctor: Sixth Doctor
Companions: Peri
Setting: Varos; late 23rd century
Writer: Philip Martin
Director: Ron Jones
Broadcast: 19th January - 26th January 1985
Format: 2 45-minute episodes
Previous Story: Attack of the Cybermen
Following Story: The Mark of the Rani

Vengeance on Varos was the second story of Season 22. It introduced the alien Sil.



Seeking the rare mineral Zeiton-7 to repair his TARDIS, the Doctor arrives on Varos, a world where political prisoners and their guards are both subjected to sadistic tortures and executions which the colony's inhabitants view and vote on through interactive television. Accused of being alien infiltrators helping the colony's rebel factions, the Doctor and Peri find themselves the latest unwilling subjects in this most extreme form of reality TV.



Part 1

Sil abuses the system
On Varos, a planet in the constellation of Cetes, the public torture of the rebel Jondar is taking place and being broadcast throughout the planet. Citizens Arak and Etta watch the proceedings from their room. Arak complains that they never show anything new to watch. In addition to the lack of new programming, the two must also deal with food rationing. And that night will be a punch-in vote ordered by the Governor, and voting is mandatory.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is repairing the TARDIS console. Peri complains that the Doctor has caused three electrical fires, a power failure, nearly collided with a storm of asteroids, got lost in the TARDIS corridors twice, wiped the memory banks of the flight computer, jettisoned three quarters of the storage hold, and burned her "cold dinner", all since the time-travellers left Telos. Minutes later, the TARDIS unexpectedly stops, stalled in the middle of deep space. And the Doctor can do nothing to fix it.

Sil, the Mentor representative of the Galatron Mining Corporation, is negotiating with the Governor over the price of Varos' Zeiton-7 ore. Their discussion, like many others, ends in stalemate. For many years, the Galatron Mining Corporation has swindled Varos by paying far less for the ore than its market value. And to make matters worse, the Chief Officer is in league with Sil. The Governor moves on to conduct the night's vote. He addresses the people asking for their vote on if they should hold out longer for a fair price on the ore. The Governor loses and is forced to endure Human Cell Disintegration Bombardment. The process slowly kills the target and this is the third time his recommendations have failed to pass. The guard Rondel recommends that the Governor execute Jondar to please the citizens so he can recuperate before the next vote.

Peri locates the TARDIS manual and presents it to the Doctor who quickly dismisses it. He knows perfectly well what has caused their dilemma. The transitional elements within the TARDIS have stopped producing orbital energy and they need Zeiton-7 ore to realign the power systems. And as the Doctor explains, Zeiton-7 is exceptionally rare and only comes from one planet: Varos. The Doctor manages to repair the TARDIS enough to travel to Varos and arrives right before the execution of Jondar is to take place.

The guard on station to watch over the execution believes the TARDIS is merely a hallucination caused by the Punishment Dome. The Doctor and Peri exit the TARDIS and think they are hallucinations as well. And with some help from the chained Jondar, the guard is incapacitated. The two free Jondar and make their escape, after being cut off from the TARDIS by more guards. They are then rescued by Rondel, who has defected after speaking with Areta, and decided to help them. But he is killed shortly there after by pursuing guards.

The Doctor, Peri, Jondar, and Areta continue on through the Punishment Dome, attempting to make their way back to the TARDIS. But during a run-in with another group of guards, the Doctor is separated from the others who are arrested. He enters a corridor that appears psychologically as a desert. And with all of Varos watching, the Doctor succumbs to the heat and collapses with his end as a close-up.

Part 2

Peri transforms
During the ordeal, Peri has been brought to the control center in the company of the Governor, Sil and the other officers. They question her as she watches them bring the Doctor's body to an acid bath for disposal. It is also revealed that he is not dead, but his mind was influenced to make him believe he was dying of thirst in a desert. The Doctor suddenly stands up and walks over to the two attendants while their backs were turned. The surprise causes the first attendant to jump, pushing the second into the bath. A struggle ensues and the attendant is then pulled into the acid bath by the second who reaches up and grabs him. The Doctor strolls out with a morbid quip.

After making his way from the acid baths, the Doctor is cornered by Quillam, Varos' chief scientist, and is taken away. Back in the control centre, it is decided that the Doctor and Jondar will be executed in a good "old-fashioned" way while Peri and Areta are to be reshaped with a cell mutator. The Doctor and Jondar are placed in the nooses while the Governor and Sil watch. At the last moment the Doctor questions the Governor about Sil and his extortion. Sil's bodyguards rush the platform where the nooses are and pull the lever. But the two simply fall through the holes, the rope coming right off the support. As it turns out, there was to be no execution — it was all a way to get information out of the Doctor. The Doctor suspected this as he noticed that they were not being filmed.

The group then attempts to stop the cell mutator on Peri and Areta, but they are told it's at too advanced a stage to stop. The Doctor and Jondar grab the weapons of nearby guards in an attempt to intimidate Quillam to deactivate the mutator. But it fails, and the Doctor resorts to shooting the entire control panel. The process has been stopped in the nick of time and Peri and Areta return to their original form. The four then escape back into the depths of the Punishment Dome towards a possible escape route. But Peri, still in a stupor after the affects of the mutator, is recaptured and taken to the control centre.

The Chief and Sil make their final move on the Governor in hopes that during the next vote he will be killed by the Human Cell Disintegration Bombardment, securing the way for them to control Varos and the Zeiton-7 ore. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Jondar, and Areta make their way into the End Zone of the Dome, where the exit is supposed to be. The vote starts and the bombardment begins, but the guard Maldak has a change of heart and stops the device, saving the Governor and Peri. The three then make their way to meet up with the Doctor through the ventilation ducts.

The Doctor's group is then chased by two cannibals and loses them in some poisonous tendrils. The Chief and Quillam arrive on the scene but are entangled in the tendrils, killing them. They then meet up with Peri, the Governor, and Meldak. They all make their way back to the control centre and put an end to Sil's plans of controlling Varos. The Galatron Mining Corporation also began to side with Varos; a second source of Zeiton-7 ore has been found, and Sil is ordered to obtain the Varosian ore at any price. The Doctor and Peri then bid the Governor farewell, taking the replacement ore with them.

The Governor issues a message to the citizens saying that there will be no more injustice, torture, and executions. Arak and Etta watch in disbelief, wondering what they'll do with their new-found freedom.




  • Varos is a former prison planet for the criminally insane, ostensibly ruled by the descendants of the officers. Despite the poverty of the populace, it has been politically stable for over 200 years.
  • Zeiton-7 is bought at a ludicrously low price from Varos by the exploitative Galatron Mining Corporation.
  • Galatron negotiators, such as Sil from the planet Thoros Beta, exploit the ongoing political vacuum caused by the succession of Governors who are appointed and eventually killed.
  • Galatron's chief rivals are Amorb.
  • Varos property is owned or policed by a body known as Comtech.


  • The Doctor has been conducting some TARDIS repairs, although this has led to three electrical fires, a total blackout, and a near collision with a storm of asteroids.
  • The TARDIS' latest fault occurs when the transitional elements stop generating 'orbital energy', leaving the TARDIS midway between Cetes and Scalpor.
  • The Doctor says Zeiton-7 is needed to repair the transpower system.
  • Peri finds a huge Type 40 TARDIS manual in a workshop. She suggests that the fault might be the comparator.

Story Notes

  • This story had working titles of; Domain, Planet Of Fear.
  • This was one of the stories cited by critics who complained the series had become too dark and violent.
  • This story like many of the Season 22 was produced in 45 minute episodes, however when sold to other countries such as Australia and America the episodes were edited into 4 25-minute episodes.
  • Public torture and execution as entertainment go back as far the Romans. The idea of television and manipulation of the media to control the masses has been used in many works of dystopian science fiction.
  • Arak and Etta never interact with any other characters in the story, instead merely observing and commenting on the proceedings as a Greek chorus.


  • Episode 1 - 7.2 million viewers
  • Episode 2 - 7.0 million viewers

Myths and rumours

  • The original title of this story was "Song of the Space Whale." ("Song" was in fact a completely different story by Pat Mills which was rejected in favor of this one.)
  • A controversy persists regarding the scene where the two guards fall into the acid pit, as it looks as if the Doctor has pushed them in. A still on the Doctor Who Image Archive website seems to confirm that they do in fact fall in accidentally. The Doctor's quip after they die further exacerbates the controversy.

Filming Locations

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • The cuffs lock around the Governor's wrists at different moments in the first two votes that we see.It could be that there is some hidden button or pedal that allows the Governor to signal when he is "ready" for the vote. He may have signaled at different points in time during the voting process.
  • The Doctor rigs up the laser beam in episode one, intending to kill the guards. He assumed any approaching guards would see it and stop.
  • How can the TARDIS so suddenly run out of something so vital? Easily. A car can run-out of petrol can't it? It's just a question of the Doctor ignoring or not noticing the warning signs, which is hardly out of the ordinary for him.
  • Why are the cannibals wearing nappies?
  • Both the desert and the water are illusions, but the desert parches whereas the water doesn't quench. What water? The only water in the illusion is the glass in Peri is holding and he never gets near that. Besides the 'parching' of the desert is probably aided by actually heating of the corridor he's in.
  • The spaces between the planks/bars in some of the doors of the punishment dome are big enough to squeeze through.
  • Why would the GMC invasion force from Sil's home planet turn-back at the end of the story just because they've discovered an alternative source of Zeiton-7? Since they are already on their way to take control of the planet, why not simply go ahead and then they wouldn't have to agree to pay whatever the Varosians wanted for it? The discovery should spur them on, not draw them off!


DVD, Video, and Other Releases

DVD Release

Released as Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos, this was the fifth and final release of 2001.


NTSC- Warner Video E1718


  • On the Studio Floor ... - Behind the scenes footage of the making of the story.
  • Trailers
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes/Out-takes
  • Unmixed Soundtrack Option
  • Continuities
  • Photo Gallery
  • Production Subtitles
  • Commentary: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Nabil Shaban

Rear Credits:


Video Release

Released as Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos.


PAL - BBC Video BBCV4962
NTSC - CBS/FOX Video 8252
NTSC - Warner Video E1274


Main article: Vengeance on Varos (novelisation)

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide for Vengeance on Varos
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - Vengeance on Varos
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel): Vengeance on Varos
  • The Doctor Who Restoration Team's Vengeance on Varos page
Season 22
Attack of the Cybermen  • Vengeance on Varos  • The Mark of the Rani  • The Two Doctors  • Timelash  • Revelation of the Daleks

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


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