The Smugglers

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028 – The Smugglers
Doctor Who serial
Polly, The Doctor and Ben change in an inn owned by the smuggler Jacob Kewper
Directed byJulia Smith
Written byBrian Hayles
Script editorGerry Davis
Produced byInnes Lloyd
Music bynone[1]
Production codeCC
SeriesSeason 4
Running time4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missingAll 4 episodes
First broadcast10 September 1966 (1966-09-10)
Last broadcast1 October 1966 (1966-10-01)
← Preceded by
The War Machines
Followed by →
The Tenth Planet

The Smugglers is the completely missing first serial of the fourth season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 10 September to 1 October 1966.

In this serial, the Doctor (William Hartnell) and his new travelling companions Ben (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills) arrive on the coast of seventeenth-century Cornwall – much to the astonishment of Polly and Ben. Pirates led by Captain Samuel Pike (Michael Godfrey) and his henchman Cherub (George A. Cooper) are searching for a hidden treasure, while a smuggling ring masterminded by the local squire Edwards (Paul Whitsun-Jones) is trying to off-load contraband. Although audio recordings, still photographs, and clips of the story exist, no episodes of this serial are known to have survived.


The First Doctor's new companions Ben and Polly arrive with him in the TARDIS on the coast of seventeenth century Cornwall. They meet a worried churchwarden named Joseph Longfoot, who lives in fear of "Avery's boys" and, in thanks for the Doctor's kindness in relocating a dislocated finger, imparts a cryptic message he calls "Deadman's secret key": "Smallbeer, Ringwood, Gurney".[notes 2] While the time travellers head off to the local inn, Longfoot has another visitor. This is Cherub, Longfoot's former shipmate under pirate Captain Avery on the Black Albatross. Cherub and his master, Samuel Pike, who captains the Albatross since Avery died, want to recover Avery's accursed gold. Pike is convinced that Longfoot has the treasure or knows where it is hidden. When the churchwarden does not co-operate, Cherub kills him – but not before revealing he saw the three travellers who visited Longfoot earlier.

The discovery of the churchwarden's body leads the locals to suspect the three strangers at the inn. The local Squire is called to intervene and adjudicate, and charges Ben and Polly with the murder. Employing trickery to obtain their freedom, they split up. Ben hides at the church until Josiah Blake, a revenue man tracking the local smugglers, disturbs him.

Cherub and some pirates kidnap the Doctor and take him to the Albatross. The Doctor attempts to bargain with Pike, and is kept aboard ship while the captain goes ashore. Pike tries to make an alliance with the Squire as well, to protect himself while he searches for Avery's treasure. The greedy Squire is the organiser of the local smuggling ring and offers to cut Pike and his pirates in. They are interrupted by Polly, who has come to implore the Squire to help her find the Doctor and is shocked to see him in the company of Cherub.

Pike, Cherub and the Squire bind and gag Polly and take her to the church, meeting and capturing Ben on the way. They attempt to convince Blake that Ben and Polly are the true smugglers. Knowing the truth but lacking the manpower to arrest the pirates, Blake pretends to arrest Ben and Polly. The Doctor escapes and meets up with his friends in the churchyard. Blake works out a smuggling drop is due soon and heads off for more revenue men to break the smuggling ring.

The smuggling alliance has by now fallen apart: the Squire has realised he is dealing with a ruthless pirate who will not honour any bargains while Cherub has decided to locate Avery's gold for himself. The Squire sets off to find the gold, as do the time travellers since the Doctor is convinced the rhyme of the churchwarden is the key. He works out the names Ringwood, Smallbeer, and Gurney pertain to graves in the crypt but before he can find the treasure, the other seekers arrive. Cherub wounds the Squire, and forces the Doctor to confess the rhyme. Cherub concludes that Deadman too is a name of one of Avery's former pirates, but is slain by a vengeful Pike, who now threatens to pillage the entire village in his search for Avery's treasure. The Doctor bargains with Pike for the lives of the villagers if he shows him the treasure and, with this agreed, they find the gold at the intersection of the four graves.

No sooner does Pike have the treasure than Blake and an armed patrol of revenue men arrive. Aided by the injured Squire – who repents of his sins – Blake kills Pike, and the pirate force is routed. As the battle dies down, the Doctor and his companions slip away to the TARDIS, and the Doctor says superstition is a strange thing but it sometimes tells the truth.


EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
Archive [3]
1"Episode 1"24:3610 September 1966 (1966-09-10)4.3Only stills and/or fragments exist
2"Episode 2"24:2717 September 1966 (1966-09-17)4.9Only stills and/or fragments exist
3"Episode 3"23:5524 September 1966 (1966-09-24)4.2Only stills and/or fragments exist
4"Episode 4"23:371 October 1966 (1966-10-01)4.5Only stills and/or fragments exist

^† Episode is missing

All four episodes of this serial are considered missing. Due to the story's unusual amount of violence for the time, it was heavily censored; pieces of Australian censor footage survive, mainly depicting the piratical villains.

This was the last story filmed in the third season's production block, although it was held over until the beginning of the fourth season. During filming, the production team realized that William Hartnell's health had deteriorated beyond the point where he could continue to work. Many months' discussion about replacing Hartnell finally came to a head, and Innes Lloyd decided not to renew Hartnell's contract. It is unclear whether Hartnell was contractually obliged to appear in The Tenth Planet or whether he agreed to do so after being informed of Lloyd's decision.

This was the first story to feature major location shooting. All previous location shots had been conducted at locations around London, but substantial portions of this story were filmed in Cornwall.[4]

On initial airing, this story posted the lowest audience figures since the show began, at an average of 4.48 million viewers per episode. It would remain the least-watched Doctor Who serial for twenty years, until The Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet aired in 1986.


In 2002, Interzone's Paul Beardsley reviewed the CD release as "an amiable but unremarkable purely historical yarn set in 17th century Cornwall" but remarked "[Anneke Wills]'s very good, and I hope she'll return to do The Underwater Menace."[5]

In a review for the Radio Times, Patrick Mulkern praised the "excellent cast", though noting that the character of Jamaica was "a dodgy caricature that would be inconceivable in modern drama." Mulkern was also impressed by the authentic Cornwall locations, "a terrific bonus that allows the production to breathe."[6]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

The Smugglers
AuthorTerrance Dicks
Cover artistAlister Pearson
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
17 November 1988

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in June 1988.

Home media[edit]

The soundtrack for the story exists due to fan-made recordings. These have been released on CD together with linking narration provided by cast member Anneke Wills.[7] Several brief clips cut by Australian censors for violence were recovered in 1996 and were released on the Lost in Time DVD box set in 2004. Also included in the set is amateur on-location colour film footage made during production at Trethewey Farm, Trethewey, Cornwall.


  1. ^ Character name listed on credits as "Churchwarden".
  2. ^ Terence De Marney, the actor who plays Joseph Longfoot, actually flubs his line and gives the code as "Smallwood, Ringwood, Gurney". When The Doctor repeats the words later, he correctly says "Smallbeer".


  1. ^ Wright, Mark, ed. (2016). "The Savages, The War Machines, The Smugglers and The Tenth Planet". Doctor Who: The Complete History. 8 (27). London: Panini Comics, Hachette Partworks: 98. ISSN 2057-6048.
  2. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  3. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "The Smugglers". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – The Smugglers". BBC. Archived from the original on 1 April 2009.
  5. ^ Beardsley, Paul (August 2002). "Audio Reviews". Interzone. David Pringle.
  6. ^ "The Smugglers ★★★★". Radio Times.
  7. ^ "The Fourth Dimension". BBC Programme Catalogue. Archived from the original on 21 November 2022.

External links[edit]