The Stones of Blood

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100 – The Stones of Blood
Doctor Who serial
Stones of Blood.jpg
The Doctor and Romana look for a segment of the Key to Time in a Stone circle
Directed by Darrol Blake
Written by David Fisher
Script editor Anthony Read
Produced by Graham Williams
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code 5C
Series Season 16
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 28 October – 18 November 1978
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Pirate Planet The Androids of Tara

The Stones of Blood is the third serial of the 16th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 28 October to 18 November 1978. Part 4 was broadcast during the week of the show's fifteenth anniversary. It forms part of the Key to Time story arc.


The Doctor and Romana are about to embark in search of the third segment of the Key to Time when an aural warning tells them to "Beware the Black Guardian." They venture outside to find themselves near the Nine Travellers, a group of standing stones in Boscombe Moor, Cornwall. Also interested in the location is aged archaeologist, Professor Emilia Rumford, who is surveying the stones along with her friend, Vivien Fay.

Alerted to the activities of a local druidic sect, the Doctor heads off to meet its implied leader, de Vries, who lives in a large property nearby, Boscombe Hall, built on the site of the Convent of the Sisters of St Gudula. Inside, de Vries and another woman, Martha, are incanting to the Cailleach, the Druidic goddess of war and magic. The Doctor interrupts and de Vries knocks him out, aiming to sacrifice him to the Cailleach, but are disturbed by Professor Rumford, who helps the Doctor get free.

At the same time Romana is wandering by the cliff edge when an apparition of the Doctor confronts her and she nearly falls over the edge. When the real Doctor saves her she is somewhat confused, but the newly arrived K-9 assures her that it is indeed the Doctor – and he is convinced of the existence of a projected doppelganger. He determines that de Vries can answer some questions, and sets off for Boscombe Hall. On arrival he finds de Vries and Martha crushed to death and the place under attack by a pair of mobile giant stones like those from the Moor. The Doctor and K-9 repel the attack, though the robot is badly damaged and needs repair work in the TARDIS. The Doctor works out that the stones are aliens, dependent on globulin and needing blood to survive. Hiding in the cellar, the Doctor and Emilia discover portraits of three of the previous owners of the Hall - all of whom share the face of Vivien Fay.

Meanwhile, Miss Fay has brought more of the stones to life by pouring blood on them. Encountering Romana, she sends her to her spaceship in hyperspace.

The Doctor and Professor Rumford reach the stone circle, where Miss Fay tells them that Romana will be safe providing the Doctor stops interfering, and then disappears. The Doctor now identifies the stones as Ogri, a life form from Ogros in the Tau Ceti system.

The Doctor calculates Romana and her captor must be in hyperspace, and builds a projecting device, which he uses to transmit himself there. He arrives on a hyperspace craft, which appears to be a prison vessel. He soon breaks a lock on a sealed door, releasing two floating globes. They are Megara, justice machines – dispensing the law as judge, jury and executioner. They contend that as the Doctor broke the seals he has transgressed the law and should be eliminated.

K-9 and Emilia have meanwhile been tasked with protecting the projector used by the Doctor to cross the dimensions, but find themselves under attack from two of the Ogri. Vivien returns to Earth and destroys the device but spares her friend. She takes the Ogri back to the hyperspace vessel with her and there tells the Doctor and Romana she has destroyed their linking device between the dimensions, leaving them trapped in hyperspace.

The Doctor now faces trial by the Megara, an abrupt and unfair process dependent on the word but not the spirit of the law. Conducting his own defence, he attempts to draw Vivien Fay into the trial and to get the Megara to subject her to truth indicators, surmising she is one of the criminals from the prison ship. He finds out that one of the prisoners the ship was carrying is Cessair of Diplos, a criminal wanted for murder and the removal and misuse of the Great Seal of Diplos, which had the powers of transmutation, transformation, and the establishing of hyperspatial and temporal coordinates.

Emilia and K-9 have meanwhile repaired the projector and use the device to beam Romana back from the hyperspace vessel – plus the one surviving Ogri, which pursues them. They find some incriminating data at Miss Fay’s cottage and then Romana and the Ogri return to the spacecraft to await the verdict.

At the close of his trial, the Doctor is convicted and the Megara fire at him. He quickly drags Vivien into the beams’ focus, forcing the Megara to halt the process and examine her to see if she is badly hurt. On doing so they find that she is indeed Cessair of Diplos. She is charged with her crimes when she awakes and sentenced to perpetual imprisonment as a stone on the Moor.

The Doctor, K-9 and Romana return to the TARDIS, thanking Emilia for her great assistance. As he suspected, the Great Seal of Diplos – removed from the Cessair’s neck before she was turned to stone – is the third segment of the Key to Time. The Doctor sends the Megara back to Diplos, and he and Romana depart in the TARDIS before an astounded Emilia.


The cells on the Cessair's ship contain a dead Wirrn (The Ark in Space) and the skeleton of a Kraal android (The Android Invasion).


Working titles for this story included The Nine Maidens and The Stones of Time. Contrary to usual practice, the on location recording in this story were shot on video; a decision by the director to avoid the jarring effect when cutting between film and video. This was a nod back to Tom Baker's first season as the Doctor,[citation needed] when the first story Robot and the third story The Sontaran Experiment were recorded on video tape. The main location was the Rollright Stones, a megalithic site in Oxfordshire, England.[1] An actual legend of the site states that it is impossible to count the stones.[2] As the serial ends, the Doctor notes that the number of stones in the circle has changed (due to the removal of 3 Ogri and the addition of Cessair's imprisoned form) and suggests Professor Rumford write a monograph about it.

The first episode cliff-hanger called for a scene in which Cessair, disguised as the Doctor, pushed Romana off the cliff. Baker objected to the scene, as he felt it would be very upsetting to children to see the Doctor as a threat. Instead the scene was filmed so that the viewer never sees who pushed Romana. The fifteenth anniversary of the programme took place on 23 November 1978, five days after the broadcast of episode four. To commemorate this, Anthony Read asked David Fisher to write a new scene (expanded by Darrol Blake) featuring Romana and K-9 surprising the Doctor with a cake celebrating his 751st birthday and a new, identical scarf. However, producer Graham Williams vetoed this idea as being too self-indulgent, and the scene was never shot.[3] Blake had already ordered a cake, and this was eventually eaten by the cast and crew.

This was one of only two stories between Frontier in Space and the end of the series' initial run not to have the special sounds created by Dick Mills. Due to Mills suffering a brief illness, Elizabeth Parker provided the sound effects instead.

Cast notes[edit]

Director Darrol Blake originally offered the role of Vivien to Honor Blackman, who declined the part as she felt Beatrix Lehmann had all the best material. Blake then asked Maria Aitken, who wasn't interested. Susan Engel was finally hired for the part. An uncredited Gerald Cross provided the voice of the White Guardian. Elaine Ives-Cameron later played Ms Lavish in the audio play The Stones of Venice.

Outside references[edit]

In addition to Cessair posing as a goddess, both her real name and her assumed identity come from Celtic mythology. Cessair is a heroine in the mythology of Ireland, and Vivien Fay suggests Viviane and Morgan le Fay, both from Arthurian legend. Emphasising this, one of Cessair's previous identities is "Lady Morgana Montcalm".

The Doctor refers to the Ogri as Gog and Magog and ogres. The Doctor claims to have met John Aubrey, who first suggested stone circles were connected to druids, saying Aubrey invented druidism as a joke.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 28 October 1978 (1978-10-28) 24:20 8.6
"Part Two" 4 November 1978 (1978-11-04) 23:53 6.6
"Part Three" 11 November 1978 (1978-11-11) 24:27 9.3
"Part Four" 18 November 1978 (1978-11-18) 23:07 7.6

In their book The Discontinuity Guide (1995), Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping praised the "Hammeresque" first two episodes, but criticised the "woeful" final two episodes, ultimately writing that "the story disappoints as whole acres of motivation and background are glossed over".[6] In The Television Companion (1998), David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker were more positive, calling it "extremely good". They praised the directing and noted that the "wide variety of different plot elements and two highly contrasting settings, manages to encapsulate much of what has made the series so successful over the years".[7] In 2011, Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times described The Stones of Blood as "an intriguing yarn with small stakes and vivid characters", particularly praising the female roles.[8] DVD Talk's Justin Felix gave the serial four out of five stars, describing it as "a fun Doctor Who romp". He opined that the Ogri were "arguably the best part of this serial ... a hysterically fun group of monsters".[9]

Commercial Releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who and the Stones of Blood
Doctor Who and the Stones of Blood.jpg
Author Terrance Dicks
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
20 March 1980
ISBN 0-426-20099-3

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in March 1980. The audiobook release of this story does not use the Target novelistion by Terrance Dicks, but uses a brand new novelisation written for audio by David Fisher and narrated by Susan Engel who portrayed Viven Fay in the broadcast version.[10]

Home media[edit]

This story was released on VHS in May 1995. This release contained an extended cut of episode two, which featured a longer exchange between de Vries and his mistress before they were attacked by the Ogri. This scene had been removed from the UK broadcast of the story because of concerns about its presentation of adults consumed by terror.[citation needed] The scene is contained in full in the deleted scenes package on the later DVD release, which contains the episode as televised.

This serial, along with the rest of season sixteen, was released in North America as part of the Key to Time box set which was released on region 2 DVD on 24 September 2007.[11] This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in issue 67 on 27 July 2011.


  1. ^ Howe, Stammers & Walker 1992, p. 223
  2. ^ "Myths and legends". The Rollright Stones. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Stones of Blood". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Stones of Blood". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Stones of Blood". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. 
  7. ^ Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7. 
  8. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (14 January 2011). "Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood". Radio Times. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Felix, Justin (27 March 2009). "Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood". DVD Talk. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood (Classic Novels)". Amazon. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "DVD News". BBC. 18 May 2007. 


External links[edit]

Fan reviews
Target novelisation