Jump to content

Planet of Fire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

134[1]Planet of Fire
Doctor Who serial
Directed byFiona Cumming
Written byPeter Grimwade
Script editorEric Saward
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Music byPeter Howell
Production code6Q
SeriesSeason 21
Running time4 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast23 February 1984 (1984-02-23)
Last broadcast2 March 1984 (1984-03-02)
← Preceded by
Resurrection of the Daleks
Followed by →
The Caves of Androzani
List of episodes (1963–1989)

Planet of Fire is the fifth serial of the 21st season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four twice-weekly parts on BBC1 from 23 February to 2 March 1984.

In the serial, the Doctor's old enemy, the Master, plots to use the volcanic gases on the planet Sarn to renew his body after accidentally shrinking himself in an experiment.

Peter Davison's penultimate serial as the Doctor, it marks the departure of Mark Strickson as Vislor Turlough and introduces Nicola Bryant as Peri Brown.


The Fifth Doctor, Peri Brown, and Turlough land on the planet Sarn, where the natives worship the local volcano as a god. It is revealed that Sarn is a long abandoned Trion colony planet. Turlough, a Trion, suspects some of his family were sent here after a revolution against the hereditary leading clans of his homeworld. Turlough realises the Chosen One, Malkon, may be his brother.

The android Kamelion has meanwhile made mental contact with its old controller, the Master. Kamelion, controlled by the Master, convinces the natives that he is the Outsider, a promised prophet. He seizes Peri and uses her to transport a black box into the control room of his TARDIS. It contains a miniaturised Master, who has been transformed by a disastrous experiment with his Tissue Compression Eliminator weapon. The Master re-established the psychic link with Kamelion and has manoeuvred him to Sarn so that he can take advantage of the restorative powers of the numismaton gas within the fire mountain.

Turlough realises the imminent volcanic bursts will destroy Sarn, so he uses a communication unit to get in touch with Trion and plead for a rescue ship to evacuate the planet. Acting on a message from the Doctor, Turlough programs the TARDIS to rescue the Doctor and Peri. He finds out that a general amnesty has been issued and he is free to return home.

The Doctor succeeds in weakening the Master's hold over Kamelion and interrupts the numismaton experiment. He is unable to prevent the Master from reacquiring his usual size. As the gas flow alters, the Master is trapped and the Doctor watches as he is seemingly immolated. Implored by the terminally wounded Kamelion, the Doctor has put the automaton out of its misery. Escaping the destruction of the gas control room in the TARDIS along with Peri, the Doctor lands to pick up Turlough, only to find that he has elected to return to Trion. Turlough tells Peri to look after the Doctor. He then parts from the Doctor, thanking him for all that he has learned in his travels with him. As the Doctor and Peri return to the TARDIS, she says she has a few months' vacation left and would like to spend it travelling with him. The Doctor accepts and they depart.



It was decided that because of the climate of Lanzarote, where the serial was filmed, the cast would have to alter their usual costumes. Although Peter Davison started the story wearing his cricketer outfit, for the rest of the story, he wore a different pair of trousers with question mark braces and a beige floral waistcoat. Strickson shed his usual school uniform in favour of a blue pin-stripe shirt and tan shorts with a pair of swimming briefs underneath. Nicola Bryant also wore a pink bikini beneath her clothes to which she stripped down for a couple of scenes.[5]

Cast notes[edit]

Mark Strickson has also reprised the role of Turlough in the audio plays by Big Finish Productions and penned the introduction to the spin-off novel Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma (1986). Promotional photographs taken during production include a shot of Peter Davison wearing a tuxedo and holding a gun, with Nicola Bryant standing next to him in a bikini, in the style of James Bond.[6]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [7]
1"Part One"24:2623 February 1984 (1984-02-23)7.4
2"Part Two"24:2024 February 1984 (1984-02-24)6.1
3"Part Three"23:571 March 1984 (1984-03-01)7.4
4"Part Four"24:442 March 1984 (1984-03-02)7.0

Writing for Radio Times, Patrick Mulkern gave the serial three stars out of five and observed that writer Peter Grimwade "laces his script with homosexual subtext", noting in particular the "male eye candy on display", arguing that "old sage Timanov’s mentoring of callow youth Malkon has a hint of pederasty" and also commenting on the "unmistakably phallic object" hauled from the seabed and fondled by Howard, Curt and Peri.[8] Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, authors of The Discontinuity Guide, thought that new companion Peri made a good impression, helped by some decent lines. They said "As a whole the story is less than the sum of its parts: not a great deal happens, but it is competently written, and the location filming is excellent."[9]

The serial was also positively reviewed by Arnold T Blumberg of IGN who said it had "a lot to recommend" with "beautiful location work" and effective sets. Blumberg also praised the performances of Anthony Ainley who was "far more menancing" as the Master than he had been previously, and Peter Wyngarde, an "excellent choice" for the role of a religious leader.[10]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Planet of Fire
AuthorPeter Grimwade
Cover artistAndrew Skilleter
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
14 February 1985

A novelisation of this serial, written by Peter Grimwade, was published by Target Books in October 1984.

Home media[edit]

Planet of Fire was released on VHS in September 1998. The DVD was released in June 2010, with commentary by Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Mark Strickson and Fiona Cumming, as part of the box set Kamelion Tales along with The King's Demons.[11]


  1. ^ Also provided the distorted Trion voice, uncredited.


  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this as story number 135. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Nathan-Turner, John (1986). Doctor Who – The Companions. New York: Random House. pp. 18–21. ISBN 0-394-88291-1.
  3. ^ Howe, David J; Stammers, Mark (1995). Doctor Who – Companions. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 103. ISBN 1852275820.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who – Classic Series – Companions – Kamelion". BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  5. ^ "10 Most Paused Doctor Who Moments Ever". 4 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Doctor Who Image Archive – Various". shillPages. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  8. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (29 March 2012). "Planet of Fire". Radio Times. London. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – Planet of Fire – Details". BBC.
  10. ^ "Doctor Who: Planet of Fire DVD Review – IGN". November 2021.
  11. ^ Alex Westthorp (2 July 2010). "Doctor Who: Kamelion Tales Collection DVD review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 11 September 2019.

External links[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]