The Time Monster

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064 – The Time Monster
Doctor Who serial
Directed byPaul Bernard
Written byRobert Sloman, Barry Letts (uncredited)
Script editorTerrance Dicks
Produced byBarry Letts
Executive producer(s)None
Music byDudley Simpson
Production codeOOO
SeriesSeason 9
Running time6 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast20 May 1972 (1972-05-20)
Last broadcast24 June 1972 (1972-06-24)
← Preceded by
The Mutants
Followed by →
The Three Doctors
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

The Time Monster is the fifth and final serial of the ninth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts on BBC1 from 20 May to 24 June 1972.

The serial is set in a village near Cambridge as well as the mythical city of Atlantis. In the serial, the alien time traveller the Master (Roger Delgado) seeks the power of Kronos (Marc Boyle and Ingrid Bower), a being that exists outside of time and space, so that he can control the universe.


The Master, posing as a professor, gains access to a physical science research unit in the village of Wootton, near Cambridge. He conducts time experiments focused around transmitting matter by breaking it down into light waves. He is particularly interested in examining a trident-shaped crystal in his possession, using it to attract a being he addresses as Kronos.

The Third Doctor and Jo Grant visit the institute, following his hunch that the Master is back on Earth with his TARDIS. The experiments disrupt the normal flow of time and in one instance, Hyde, a researcher, is caught in the field of the experiment, and ages to more than eighty years. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has the project evacuated and begins a hunt for the Master. The Doctor explains that Kronos is a "chronovore", a creature from outside time that feeds on it, attracted from the vortex to ancient Atlantis using a crystal trident larger than one seen to have been used by the Master. The Doctor suspects capturing the chronovore is the Master’s purpose, and that this represents a danger to the entire Universe.

Meanwhile, the Atlantean High Priest of Poseidon, Krasis, is transported through interstitial time by the Master and brought to an office at the institute. The Master seizes the Seal of Kronos from the priest and uses it to conjure Kronos, a white, bird-like figure, who devours the Institute's Director, Dr Percival. Kronos is briefly contained by the Master, but breaks free, Krasis surmising the Master only has the smaller fragment of the original crystal.

The Doctor and his allies, alerted by the Master's actions, build a time flow analogue to interrupt the experiments. The Time Lords then duel using time as a weapon, leading to a series of bizarre temporal effects. When they pit their TARDISes against one another, the Doctor is ejected into the vortex, but survives thanks to Jo and his TARDIS.

In ancient Atlantis, King Dalios is troubled by the disappearance of Krasis and the threat to the Kronos crystal, which is guarded by the Minotaur at the heart of a maze. The Master has travelled to Atlantis in search of the crystal and soon inveigles himself at court, wooing Queen Galleia. When the Doctor and Jo arrive, the unnaturally long-lived King confides that Atlantis turned from Kronos and sought to end the link by which the chronovore could be controlled, by destroying the crystal, but they could only splinter it. The Doctor then faces the Minotaur to rescue Jo, duped into the maze by Krasis, and the creature is destroyed. The crystal is now produced from the maze – but the Master’s schemes have borne fruit and he has usurped the throne. Jo and the Doctor are soon detained and witness Dalios' death after being smitten with a trident.

Krasis uses the crystal to summon Kronos to Atlantis once more. The enraged chronovore begins to destroy Atlantis while the Master flees in his TARDIS, with Jo Grant in tow. The Doctor heads off in his own TARDIS in pursuit while Kronos destroys the city and people of Atlantis. In the vortex, the Doctor threatens the mutually assured destruction of both TARDISes by a "time ram" in which both vehicles would occupy the same space/time co-ordinates. When he carries this threat out, a thankful Kronos is set free, saving the Doctor and Jo and returning them to their TARDIS. On the Doctor’s insistence, the Master is spared, too, but he flees in his own TARDIS before he can be apprehended. The Doctor and Jo return to the institute, where normality is returning, through a final use of the Master's machine, which now overloads, and the time experiments end.


According to the comprehensive production documentation released in 2023 as part of the 'Season 9 Blu Ray Collection', when Sloman was commissioned to write the final six part story for the season in May 1971, it was titled "The Daleks in London". By December 1971, the idea had been abandoned and Sloman's contract was amended to write "The Time Monster".[1]

This story sees a redesign of the TARDIS interior.[2] Producer Barry Letts was unhappy with the redesign. The set was damaged shortly after recording on this particular serial wrapped and, as a result, was discarded.

Although the PAL mastertapes had been wiped, NTSC copies were returned to the BBC from TVOntario in Canada in 1983. In 1987, a low band 625-line monochrome tape of Episode Six was discovered at the BBC. It was recoloured by combining the black-and-white picture with the 525-line colour signal of the episode, creating a superior copy to the NTSC one.

Cast notes[edit]

George Cormack also played K'anpo in Planet of the Spiders (1974).[3] Ingrid Pitt later played Solow in Warriors of the Deep (1984).[2] Ian Collier returned to play Omega in Arc of Infinity (1983) and appeared in the audio play Excelis Decays. Susan Penhaligon played Shayla in the audio play Primeval and Neville Barber played Howard Baker in K9 and Company. David Prowse would later achieve worldwide fame as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy beginning in 1977.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [4]
Archive [5]
1"Episode One"25:0420 May 1972 (1972-05-20)7.6RSC converted (NTSC-to-PAL)
2"Episode Two"25:0527 May 1972 (1972-05-27)7.4RSC converted (NTSC-to-PAL)
3"Episode Three"23:593 June 1972 (1972-06-03)8.1RSC converted (NTSC-to-PAL)
4"Episode Four"23:5510 June 1972 (1972-06-10)7.6RSC converted (NTSC-to-PAL)
5"Episode Five"24:2917 June 1972 (1972-06-17)6.0RSC converted (NTSC-to-PAL)
6"Episode Six"24:5524 June 1972 (1972-06-24)7.6PAL 2" restored colour videotape

Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping gave the serial an unfavourable review in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), describing watching it as being like "watching paint dry while being whipped with barbed wire".[6] In 2010, Mark Braxton of Radio Times felt that the serial teetered between "delightful" absurdity and "outright, galloping stupidity, and sadly it tips too often into the latter." While he praised the realisation of Atlantis and the Doctor and Jo, he wrote that many poor decisions were made in production and "any drama just dribbles away".[7] DVD Talk's Stuart Galbraith gave The Time Monster two out of five stars, finding problems in the plot structure and Kronos.[8] In 2010, SFX named the scene where the Doctor balances ordinary objects to counter TOMTIT as one of the silliest moments in Doctor Who's history.[9]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

The Time Monster
AuthorTerrance Dicks
Cover artistAndrew Skilleter
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
13 February 1986

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published in hardback by Target Books in September 1985, and in paperback in February 1986. It was reprinted again as part of Target's Doctor Who Classics range back-to-back to Barry Letts' novelisation of The Dæmons and bound in a metallic cover.

Home media[edit]

This story was released with Colony in Space in a VHS tin box set, The Master, in 2001. As of 5 August 2008, this serial has been offered for sale on iTunes. The Time Monster was released on 29 March 2010 in a Region 2 DVD box set named "Myths and Legends" along with Underworld and The Horns of Nimon. It was released as a stand-alone disc in Region 1 on 6 July 2010. In March 2023, the story was released again in an upgraded format for Blu-ray, being included with the four other stories from Season 9 in the Doctor Who - The Collection Box Set.[10]


  1. ^ Doctor Who - The Collection Season 9 Blu-Ray. BBC Video. ASIN:B0BSNRGSP9. March 2023
  2. ^ a b "BBC One - Doctor Who, Season 9, The Time Monster - The Fourth Dimension". BBC.
  3. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Planet of the Spiders - Details".
  4. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  5. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "The Time Monster". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  6. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Time Monster". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5.
  7. ^ Braxton, Mark (7 January 2010). "Doctor Who: The Time Monster". Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  8. ^ Galbraith, Stuart (18 August 2010). "Doctor Who: The Time Monster". Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  9. ^ O'Brian, Steve (November 2010). "Doctor Who's 25 Silliest Moments". SFX. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  10. ^ Doctor Who - The Collection Season 9 Blu-Ray. BBC Video. ASIN:B0BSNRGSP9. March 2023

External links[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]