OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 513
STORY NUMBER: 105
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 20 October 1979
WRITER: "David Agnew" (pseudonym for Douglas Adams, Graham Williams, and David Fisher)
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
SCRIPT EDITOR: Douglas Adams
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 16.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - City of Death
"On the contrary, Doctor, you're going to help me. And if you do not, it'll be so much the worse for you, for this young lady, and for thousands of other people I could mention if I happened to have the Paris telephone directory on my person!"
The Count threatens to do to the whole of Paris what he has just done to Professor Kerensky to force Romana to stabilise the time field in his machine. He wants Romana to make the machine send him back in time to prevent himself from launching the ship which splintered him through time and killed the rest of the Jagaroth. The Doctor arrives at the Château and talks to the Countess, planting seeds of doubt about her husband. The Doctor is taken to the cellar. The Countess searches the counts rare books and documents, finding an Egyptian scroll showing a Scaroth headed human as the Doctor described him. The Doctor tries to stop the Count, but the Count once again threatens to destroy Paris and has them locked up. The Count goes to see the Countess who pulls a gun on him demanding the truth about his identity. He pulls his mask off and kills her using circuitry within the scanning bracelet. Duggan forces the cell door allowing him, the Doctor & Romana to escape witnessing Scaroth vanish back in time and his machine explode. They return to the art gallery where the Doctor left the Tardis, astounding some watching art lovers who think the Tardis is a piece of art when it dematerialises. The Tardis travels back in time to when the Jagaroth ship was due to launch, the Doctor finding the fluid which will give birth to life, waiting for the radiation from the Jagaroth ship to start the process of life. Scaroth arrives to warn his earlier self but is stopped by Duggan who knocks him out. The unconscious Scaroth vanishes back to 1979 due to a limit Romana placed on the time machine. The Doctor, Romana & Duggan flee the scene in the Tardis escaping just before the Jagaroth ship explodes. The unmasked Scaroth materialises in 1979, startling Herman who throws something at him breaching the time field which kills Scaroth & destroys the time machine starting a fire which just one of the "fake" Mona Lisas survives, to be returned to and hung in the Louvre. The Doctor & Romana bid farewell to Duggan.
Another great episode, well done. Really loved it.
We pick up from the demise of the Professor Kerensky:
SCARLIONI: The unfortunate effect of an unstablised time field. Now, I shall do exactly the same thing to the whole of this city unless you reveal to me the secret of how to stabilise that field.We left the Doctor in the Cafe having discovered Roman and Duggan had departed for the Château. He now arrives looking for them:
DUGGAN: You're mad. You're insane. You're inhuman!
SCARLIONI: Quite so. When I compare my race to yours, human, I take the word inhuman as a great compliment.
DUGGAN: You couldn't possibly
SCARLIONI: Oh, do be quiet.
ROMANA: Count, you must have realised by now that I'm not from this planet. Why should it worry me if you destroy Paris?
DUGGAN: What are you talking about?
SCARLIONI: You had your warning. Hermann, kill him.
SCARLIONI: Ah, so you do care. I think you've answered your own question. Not a very clever bluff.
ROMANA: All right, what are you trying to do?
SCARLIONI: You agree to cooperate then?
ROMANA: Just tell me what you're trying to do and I'll see.
SCARLIONI: Excellent. Hermann.
SCARLIONI: Take him away. Lock him up.
HERMANN: Yes, sir.
SCARLIONI: I shall keep him as an insurance policy, since it is unfortunately not possible to kill him twice.
SCARLIONI: Now, my problem is very simple. Four hundred million years ago, the spaceship which I was piloting exploded while I was trying to take off from the surface of this planet.
ROMANA: That was clumsy of you.
SCARLIONI: A calculated risk. The spaceship sustained considerable damage. I was in the warp control cabin and when the explosion occurred I was flung into the time vortex and split into twelve different parts which lead, or have led, independent but connected lives in times in this planet's history. Not a very satisfactory mode of existence.
ROMANA: So you want to reunite yourself, yes?
SCARLIONI: More than that. I want to go back to where my spaceship is. Was. And stop my original self from pressing the button.
ROMANA: And you were hoping to do that with this lot?
SCARLIONI: You underestimate the problems with which I was faced. My twelve various selves have been working throughout history to push forward this miserably primitive race so that even this low level of technology could be available to me now.
ROMANA: But this won't work. Put yourself in that bubble and you would either regress back to being a baby again or go forward to old age.
SCARLIONI: I had worked out a way, but it would have taken rather too long. Now, with your help, I shall be able to return with ease. Now, build me a field interface stabiliser. Do it.
ROMANA: All right, I'll help you.
DOCTOR: I'd like to make an appointment with Count Scarlioni at his earliest convenience, if you don't mind, that is. Ah, someone in authority. I wonder, would you be kind and tell the Count that I wait upon him, please? There's a good girl. The silent type, eh? I once knew a boy like you. Never said a word, very taciturn. Well, I said to him, there's no point in talking if you've got nothing to say. Did well in the end, though. Name of Shakespeare. Ever read any Shakespeare? Countess?We briefly saw Shakespeare in The Chase but the Doctor didn't get to meet him then. Although they've obviously met at some prior point for the Doctor, Shakespeare's first meeting with the Doctor occurs in the Doctor's future when his tenth incarnation meets the Bard in 2007's The Shakespeare Code.
COUNTESS: A little. Hamlet. The first draft.
DOCTOR: What? It's been missing for centuries.
COUNTESS: It's quite genuine, I assure you.
DOCTOR: I know. I recognise the handwriting.
DOCTOR: No, mine. He'd sprained his wrist writing sonnets. Wonderful stuff. To be or not to be, that's the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and. Take arms against a sea of troubles? That's a mixed. I told him that was a mixed metaphor and he would insist.
COUNTESS: Oh Doctor, I'm quite convinced that you're perfectly mad.
DOCTOR: Only Nor-norwest. Nobody's perfect. If you think I'm mad because I say I met Shakespeare, where do you think your precious Count got that?
COUNTESS: He's a collector. He has money and contacts.The Countess does think about it, and something the Doctor has said has obviously touched a nerve because she retrieves a scroll from a concealed location showing ancient Egyptian figures including one with a Scaroth head!
DOCTOR: Contacts? Human contacts? How much do you really know about him, eh? I think rather less than you imagine.
DOCTOR: How long have you been married to the Count?
COUNTESS: Long enough.
DOCTOR: Long enough. I like that. Discretion and charm. So civilised. So terribly unhelpful.
COUNTESS: Discretion and charm. I couldn't live without it, especially in matters concerning the Count.
DOCTOR: There is such a thing as discretion. There's also such a thing as wilful blindness.
COUNTESS: Blind? I help him to steal the Mona Lisa, the greatest crime in the century, and you call me blind?
DOCTOR: Yes! You see the Count as a master criminal, an art dealer, an insanely wealthy man, and you'd like to see yourself as his consort. But what's he doing in the cellar?
COUNTESS: Tinkering. Every man must have his hobby.
DOCTOR: Man? Are you sure of that? A man with one eye and green skin, eh? Ransacking the art treasures of history to help him make a machine to reunite him with his people, the Jagaroth, and you didn't notice anything? How discreet, how charming.
HERMANN: Excuse me, my lady. Doctor, the Count is very anxious to see you in the cellar.
DOCTOR: Think about it, Countess. Think about it.
DOCTOR: Ah, Count. Hello. I wonder if you could spare me a moment of your time. Romana, hello, how are you? I see the Count's roped you in as a lab assistant. What are you making for him? A model railway? Gallifreyan egg timer? I hope you're not making a time machine. I shall be very angry.
SCARLIONI: Doctor, how very nice to see you again. It seems like only four hundred and seventy four since we last met.
DOCTOR: Indeed, indeed, yes. I so much prefer the weather in the early part of the sixteenth century, don't you? Where's Duggan?
DUGGAN: Doctor, get me out of here.
DOCTOR: Ah, there you are, Duggan. Are you behaving yourself? Good, good. Now, Count, this is what I've come to say. If you're thinking of going back in time, you'd better forget it.
SCARLIONI: And why do you say that?
DOCTOR: Well, because I'm going to stop you.
SCARLIONI: Oh no, on the contrary, Doctor, you're going to help me.
DOCTOR: I am?
SCARLIONI: You are indeed. And if you do not, it'll be so much the worse for you, for this young lady, and for thousands of other people I could mention if I happened to have the Paris telephone directory on my person.
DOCTOR: Count, that sort of blackmail won't work because I know what the consequences will be if you get what you wanted. I can't let you fool about with time.
SCARLIONI: What else do you ever do?
DOCTOR: Ah, well, I'm a professional. I know what I'm doing. I also know what you're doing. Romana, put the equipment down.
ROMANA: Doctor, it's all right. He just wants to get back to his spaceship and reunite himself.
SCARLIONI: Doctor, I think we can dispense both with your interference and with your help. Your friend has done her work very well indeed.
DOCTOR: Count, do you realise what will happen if you try to go back to the time before history began?
SCARLIONI: Yes. Yes, I do. And I don't care one jot. Hermann.
SCARLIONI: Lock them in the cellar. They shall stay long enough to watch my departure.
HERMANN: Yes, sir.
SCARLIONI: After that, kill them in whatever way takes your fancy.
HERMANN: Very good, sir.
SCARLIONI: I must say my farewells to the Countess.
SCARLIONI: My dear?So Scaroth travels back in time which means the Doctor needs to race back across Paris to the Tardis so he, Romana & Duggan can chase the Jagaroth. This means we get one last new Paris location the Avenue des Champs Elysées with the Arc de Triomphe prominently visible.
COUNTESS: Close the door. Now, what are you?
SCARLIONI: I beg your pardon?
COUNTESS: What have I been living with all these years? Where are you from and what do you want?
SCARLIONI: If I may answer those questions in reverse order, what I want is a drink. Will you have one?
COUNTESS: Stay away! Put it down! Now, who are you?
SCARLIONI: I am Scaroth.
SCARLIONI: Last of the Jagaroth!
SCARLIONI: It has not been difficult keeping secrets from you, my dear. A few fur coats, a few trinkets, a little nefarious excitement.
COUNTESS: What are the Jagaroth?
SCARLIONI: The Jagaroth. An infinitely old race and an infinitely superior one. I shall show you what you want to know, my dear.
SCAROTH: I am Scaroth. Through me, my people will live again. I'd glad to see you are still wearing the bracelet I designed for you, my dear. It is, as I said, a useful device.
SCAROTH: Goodbye, my dear. I'm sorry you had to die. But then, in a short while you will have ceased ever to have existed.
MALE ART LOVER: To me, one of the most curious things about this piece is its wonderful afunctionalism.The art lovers are two of the most prominent cameos in the whole of Doctor Who! The female art lover is actress & satirist Eleanor Bron who'll return as Kara in Revelation of the Daleks while her male companion is John Cleese and you don't need me to tell you who he is! Reputedly he was in TV Centre that day recording the final episode of Fawlty Towers!
FEMALE ART LOVER: Yes, I see what you mean. Divorced from its function and seen purely as a piece of art, its structure of line and colour is curiously counterpointed by the redundant vestiges of its function.
MALE ART LOVER: And since it has no call to be here, the art lies in the fact that it is here.
FEMALE ART LOVER: Exquisite. Absolutely exquisite.
DUGGAN: Where are we?And having spent the entire story setting Duggan up as a dumb thug who likes to punch things the eventual solution is him knocking Scaroth out cold till he's returned to the 20th Century where Herman, disgusted at his true appearance, kills him and accidentally starts a fire which destroys the Château.
DOCTOR: This will be the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
DUGGAN: We're standing on land.
ROMANA: He's out of his depth.
DOCTOR: Duggan, we are where I promised we'd be. Four hundred million years back in Earth history.
ROMANA: I can see why the Jagaroth wanted to leave.
ROMANA: Where's the Count?
DOCTOR: He'll be here. Ah. There's the Jagaroth ship. The last of the Jagaroth, a vicious, callous, war-like race. The universe won't miss them.
ROMANA: You can see why it must have exploded.
ROMANA: Its atmospheric thrust motors are disabled. The idiots'll try to take off on warp drive.
DUGGAN: That's a spaceship!
DOCTOR: The amniotic fluid from which all life on Earth will spring, where the amino acids fuse to form minute cells. Cells which eventually evolve into vegetable and animal life. You, Duggan.
DUGGAN: I come from that, that soup?
DOCTOR: Yes. Well, not that soup exactly. It's inert. There's no life in it yet. It's waiting on a massive dose of radiation.
ROMANA: The Jagaroth ship.
DOCTOR: Yes. The explosion that caused Scarlioni to splinter in time also caused the birth of the human race, and that's what's about to happen. The birth of life itself.
DUGGAN: Here, while we watch?
DOCTOR: No, no, if we were watching we'd be in dead trouble. We've got to stop Scaroth.
DOCTOR: Yes, that's his real name. If we don't stop him, the entire human race will cease to exist instantly.
SCAROTH: Stop! Stop, my brothers! In the names of the lives of all of us, stop!
DOCTOR: Scaroth. We've got to stop him.
SCAROTH: Keep out of my way. I must get to the ship.
DOCTOR: No, Scaroth, you can't.
SCAROTH: I'm in that ship. I'm in the warp control cabin. I must stop myself pressing the button.
DOCTOR: No, Scaroth, no. You've pressed it once. You've thrown the dice once. You don't get a second throw.
SCAROTH: But I will splinter in time again, and all my people will be killed!
DOCTOR: No! The explosion that you in there are about to trigger off will give birth to the human race. The moment your race kills itself, another is born. That has happened. It will happen.
SCAROTH: What do I care of the human race? Scum! The tools of my salvation.
DOCTOR: No, the product of your destruction. History cannot change. It cannot!
SCAROTH: I will change it!
Which just leaves the matter of the famous stolen painting:
DUGGAN: The one nearest the wall?Now there's a nice little joke here: As the Doctor & Romana leaves Duggan turns away from the view at the top of the Eiffel Tower, buys, or apparently pinches, a postcard of the Mona Lisa and returns to the view by which point the Doctor and Romana are on the green bellow the tower!
DOCTOR: Mmm. It was the only one that wasn't damaged in the fire.
DUGGAN: But it's a fake! You can't hang a fake Mona Lisa in the Louvre.
ROMANA: How can it be a fake if Leonardo painted it?
DUGGAN: With the words This is a Fake written under the paintwork in felt tip.
ROMANA: It doesn't affect what it looks like.
DUGGAN: It doesn't matter what it looks like.
DOCTOR: Doesn't it? Well, some people would say that's the whole point of painting.
DUGGAN: But they'll find out. They'll x-ray it.
DOCTOR: Serves them right. If they have to x-ray it to find out whether it's good or not, they might as well have painting by computer.
ROMANA: Like we have at home.
DUGGAN: Yes. Where do you two come from?
DOCTOR: From? Well, I suppose the best way to find out where you've come from is to find out where you're going and then work backwards.
DUGGAN: Where are you going?
DOCTOR: I don't know.
ROMANA: Nor do I.
DOCTOR: Bye, bye, Duggan!How did they get there so quick?
The Discontinuity Guide, one of my favourite Doctor Who publications suggests the answer may be found during The Doctor & Romana's visit to the tower in episode one!
ROMANA: What year is this?Yes, it would be VERY silly....
DOCTOR: Ah well, yes. It's 1979 actually. More of a table wine, shall we say. Ha! The randomiser's a useful device but it lacks true discrimination. Should we sip it and see?
ROMANA: Oh, I'd be delighted. Shall we take the lift or fly?
DOCTOR: Let's not be ostentatious.
ROMANA: All right. Let's fly then.
DOCTOR: That would look silly. We'll take the lift. Come on.
No, Love City of Death, it's brilliant. Great Monster, great Villain in Julian Glover's Scarlioni/Scaroth playing it in a way reminiscent of the Delgado Master, fab location work and and a story which does something with time travel. Love it.
To cap it all this episode establishes the all time viewing record for an episode of Doctor Who 16.1 Million Viewers!
Here's how many people have watched the last 8 episodes:
|01/09/1979||Destiny of the Daleks||Part 1||13.0|
|29/09/1979||City of Death||Part One||12.4|
Huge numbers. Unfortunately the ITV technicians finally went back to work in the week following this episode on 24th October and Doctor Who would never achieve such high viewing figures again. For the record then, this is how the Doctor Who highest viewing figure record changes hands:
|Episode #||Date||Story & Episode||Rating
|1||23/11/1963||An Unearthly Child: An Unearthly Child||4.4|
|2||30/11/1963||An Unearthly Child: The Cave of Skulls||5.9|
|3||07/12/1963||An Unearthly Child: The Forest of Fear||6.9|
|7||04/01/1964||The Daleks: The Escape||8.9|
|8||11/01/1964||The Daleks: The Ambush||9.9|
|10||25/01/1964||The Daleks: The Ordeal||10.4|
|46||21/11/1964||The Dalek Invasion of Earth: World's End||11.4|
|47||28/11/1964||The Dalek Invasion of Earth: The Daleks||12.4|
|53||09/01/1965||The Rescue: Desperate Measures||13|
|58||13/02/1965||The Web Planet: The Web Planet||13.5|
|387||01/02/1975||The Ark in Space: Part Two||13.6|
|508||15/09/1979||Destiny of the Daleks: Part Three||13.8|
|509||22/09/1979||Destiny of the Daleks: Part Four||14.4|
|512||13/10/1979||City of Death: Part Three||15.4|
|513||20/10/1979||City of Death: Part Four||16.1|
City of Death was repeated on 12th, 13th, 19th & 20th August 1980. It was never adapted as a Target Book: Douglas Adams was keen to novelise his three stories himself and wouldn't let anyone else do them. But then he became busy, and then became famous and the fees Target books would need to pay for his services shot up waaaay beyond the budgets for the range. However one of the central conceits of the story, an alien who's spaceship blows up at the dawn of time starting life on Earth and then influences events to try to avert the explosion utilising a time machine, was recycled by Douglas Adams for his novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, probably one of the best things Adams wrote. As we will see this isn't the only Doctor Who story to have an influence on Dirk Gently. Following Adams' death in 2001 City of Death was eventually novelised for BBC Books by James Goss appearing in Hardcover on 21st May 2015 and Paperback 11th February 2016.
City of Death was released on video twice: The first time was in July of 1991 (I can remember buying it on the day of release from Volume 1 in Kingston) and then again in May 2001. A DVD edition was made available in the UK on 7th November 2005.