The Sensorites

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007 – The Sensorites
Doctor Who serial
Two Sensorites in Doctor Who.jpg
Two of the eponymous aliens as they appear in the serial
Cast
Others
  • Stephen Dartnell — John
  • Ilona Rodgers — Carol
  • Lorne Cossette — Maitland
  • John Bailey — Commander
  • Martyn Huntley — First Human
  • Giles Phibbs — Second Human
  • Ken Tyllsen — First Sensorite/First Scientist
  • Joe Greig — Second Sensorite/Second Scientist/Warrior
  • Peter Glaze — Third Sensorite/City Administrator
  • Arthur Newall — Fourth Sensorite
  • Eric Francis — First Elder
  • Bartlett Mullins — Second Elder
  • Anthony Rogers, Gerry Martin — Sensorites
Production
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield (episodes 1-4)
Frank Cox (episodes 5-6)
Written by Peter R. Newman
Script editor David Whitaker
Produced by Verity Lambert
Mervyn Pinfield (associate producer)
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Norman Kay
Production code G
Series Season 1
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Date started 20 June 1964
Date ended 1 August 1964
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Aztecs The Reign of Terror
Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

The Sensorites is the seventh serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 20 June to 1 August 1964. The story is notable for its demonstration of Susan's telepathy and its references to the Doctor's and her home planet.

Plot[edit]

The TARDIS lands on a spaceship whose crew are apparently dead. However, three crewmembers: Captain Maitland, Carol Richmond and her fiancé John, awaken from their deathlike state. They are an exploratory mission from Earth, trapped in orbit around the Sense-Sphere by the planet’s inhabitants, the Sensorites.

These Sensorites revisit the spaceship in a bid to return the crew to their moribund state. The telepathic mind of the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan senses their frightened voices are trying to communicate with her. The Doctor deduces that the Sensorites attacked the human craft because John, a mineralogist, had discovered a vast supply of molybdenum on Sense-Sphere which they fear humanity will plunder. A previous Earth expedition had attempted to exploit Sense-Sphere for its wealth, but factions had argued amongst themselves and commandeered the Earth spacecraft, which exploded on take-off.

The Sensorites invite them the Sense-Sphere but Barbara and Maitland stay behind. John is informed that his mental condition can be cured. The Sensorite Council however, is divided over the issue of inviting the party to Sense-Sphere: some members plot to kill them, but others believe that the humans can help them fight a deadly plague affecting the city. With John cured, it is Ian who suddenly collapses, suffering from the same affliction which has blighted the Sensorite populace. It transpires not to be a plague at all, but atropine poisoning in the aqueduct’s water supply. The Doctor devises a cure, but it is stolen by the duplicitous Second Elder. Fortunately, a second batch is made easily and Ian is cured. The Second Elder is uncovered and killed.

Meanwhile, investigating the aqueduct, the Doctor meets an unseen monster which leaves him unconscious. It is later discovered that this “monster” was actually the survivors of the previous Earth mission who had been hiding in the caves and poisoning the Sensorites. Their deranged Commander leads them to the surface, where they are arrested. The Doctor and his party return to the city, pleading clemency for the poisoners. The leader of the Sensorites agrees and sends them back for treatment on Earth with Maitland, John and Carol.

Production[edit]

Jacqueline Hill does not appear in episodes 4 and 5,[1] though she is still credited on-screen.

Designer Raymond Cusick avoided the use of straight lines and right angles in his sets for the Sense Sphere, in a deliberate contrast to the "alien" buildings of other stories.[2]

Peter R. Newman based the story on time he spent in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in World War II.[citation needed]

Cast notes[edit]

Stephen Dartnell appears as John. He had previously appeared as Yartek in The Keys of Marinus. John Bailey, who plays the Commander, returned to the series to play Edward Waterfield in The Evil of the Daleks and Sezom in The Horns of Nimon.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Episode Title Run time Original air date UK viewers
(millions) [3]
Archive [4]
1 "Strangers in Space" 24:46 20 June 1964 (1964-06-20) 7.9 16mm t/r
2 "The Unwilling Warriors" 24:44 27 June 1964 (1964-06-27) 6.9 16mm t/r
3 "Hidden Danger" 24:53 11 July 1964 (1964-07-11) 7.4 16mm t/r
4 "A Race Against Death" 24:49 18 July 1964 (1964-07-18) 5.5 16mm t/r
5 "Kidnap" 25:47 25 July 1964 (1964-07-25) 6.9 16mm t/r
6 "A Desperate Venture" 24:29 1 August 1964 (1964-08-01) 6.9 16mm t/r

The third episode was postponed by one week following the overrun of sports programme Grandstand, owing to extended coverage of the Wimbledon tennis championships and the third Ashes Test match on 4 July 1964.[5][6]

In 2008, Radio Times reviewer Mark Braxton wrote that the Sensorites were "a triumph of realisation, in their appearance ... and in their hierarchy, culture and customs" but felt they were developed to the detriment of the humans, despite Stephen Dartnell being "upsettingly good as the psychologically damaged John". Despite this, he noted that it was a good story for the Doctor and Susan.[7] IGN's Arnold T. Blumburg gave the serial a score of 7 out of 10, writing that "the story builds some nice suspense in the first two episodes and features some great set design and lighting, as well as a willingness to fall almost entirely silent and let the slow burn roll" and that later on, the Sensorites were "rather appropriately portrayed in shades of gray" instead of black and white monsters like the Daleks.[8] Nick Setchfield of SFX gave The Sensorites three out of five stars, feeling that the story was "ambitious" and the slow pace "actually works in episode one's favour", though the Sensorites' "chill-factor" was gone after the first episode.[9] DVD Talk's John Sinnott also gave the serial a score of three out of five stars, writing that the story structure was "well constructed" with impressive set design and an expanded role for Susan. However, he felt that the story was not remembered that fondly because there was "nothing special about the aliens or the situation".[10] In 2013, Den of Geek's Andrew Blair selected The Sensorites as one of the ten Doctor Who stories that would make great musicals.[11]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

The Sensorites
Doctor Who The Sensorites.jpg
Author Nigel Robinson
Cover artist Nick Spender
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
118
Publisher Target Books
Publication date

February 1987 (Hardback)

16 July 1987 (Paperback)
ISBN 0-491-03455-5

The serial was novelised for Target Books by Nigel Robinson in February 1987 as Doctor Who: The Sensorites. In May 2012 the novel was released as an unabridged audiobook, read by William Russell.[12]

Home media[edit]

A restored and VidFIREd version of this story was released on VHS in November 2002. In July 2008 the original soundtrack was released on CD in the UK, with linking narration provided by William Russell.[13] The Sensorites was released on DVD in the UK on 23 January 2012.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Sensorites - Details". www.bbc.co.uk. 
  2. ^ Howe, Stammers & Walker 1994, p. 76
  3. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "The Sensorites". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1994). Doctor Who The Handbook - The First Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 75. ISBN 0-426-20430-1. 
  6. ^ Frindall, Bill (1995). The Wisden Book of Test Cricket, volume I: 1877-1977. London: Headline. p. 565. ISBN 0-7472-1117-5. 
  7. ^ Braxton, Mark (7 October 2008). "Doctor Who: The Sensorites". Radio Times. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Blumburg, Arnold T (6 March 2012). "Doctor Who: The Sensorites DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Setchfield, Nick (20 January 2012). "Doctor Who: The Sensorites DVD Review". SFX. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  10. ^ Sinnott, John (20 February 2012). "Doctor Who: The Sensorites". Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Blair, Andrew (28 August 2013). "Doctor Who: 10 stories that would make great musicals". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  12. ^ "Doctor Who: The Sensorites (Classic Novel)". AudioGo. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Doctor Who: The Sensorites". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "DVD Schedule Update". Doctor Who News. 2011-03-05. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]