Doctor Who: Tin Dog Podcast
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TDP 276: Vengance on Varos - Special Edition DVD


On Varos, a planet in the constellation of Cetes, the public torture of the rebel Jondar is taking place and being broadcast throughout the planet. Varosians Arak and Etta watch the proceedings from their room. Arak complains that they never show anything new to watch. In addition to the lack of new programming, the two must also deal with food rationing. And that night will be a punch-in vote ordered by the Governor, and voting is mandatory.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is repairing the TARDIS console. Peri complains that the Doctor has caused three electrical fires, a power failure, nearly collided with a storm of asteroids, got lost in the TARDIS corridors twice, wiped the memory banks of the flight computer, jettisoned three quarters of the storage hold, and burned her "cold dinner", all since the time-travellers left Telos (Attack of the Cybermen). Minutes later, the TARDIS unexpectedly stops, stalled in the middle of deep space. And the Doctor can do nothing to fix it.

Sil, the Mentor representative of the Galatron Mining Corporation, is negotiating with the Governor over the price of Varos’ Zeiton-7 ore. Their discussion, like many others, ends in stalemate. For many years, the Galatron Mining Corporation has swindled Varos by paying far less for the ore than its market value. And to make matters worse, the Chief Officer is in league with Sil. The Governor moves on to conduct the night’s vote. He addresses the people asking for their vote on if they should hold out longer for a fair price on the ore. The Governor loses and is forced to endure Human Cell Disintegration Bombardment. The process slowly kills the target and this is the third time his recommendations have failed to pass. The guard Bax recommends that the Governor execute Jondar to please the citizens so he can recuperate before the next vote.

Peri locates the TARDIS manual and presents it to the Doctor who quickly dismisses it. He knows perfectly well what has caused their dilemma. The transitional elements within the TARDIS have stopped producing orbital energy and they need Zeiton-7 ore to realign the power systems. And as the Doctor explains, Zeiton-7 is exceptionally rare and only comes from one planet: Varos. The Doctor manages to repair the TARDIS enough to travel to Varos and arrives right before the execution of Jondar is to take place.

The guard on station to watch over the execution believes the TARDIS is merely a hallucination caused by the Punishment Dome. The Doctor and Peri exit the TARDIS and think they are hallucinations as well. And with some help from the chained Jondar, the guard is incapacitated. The two free Jondar and make their escape, after being cut off from the TARDIS by more guards. They are then rescued by Rondel, who has defected after speaking with Areta, and decided to help them. But he is killed shortly thereafter by pursuing guards.

The Doctor, Peri, Jondar, and Areta continue on through the Punishment Dome, attempting to make their way back to the TARDIS. But during a run-in with another group of guards, the Doctor is separated from the others who are arrested. He enters a corridor that appears psychologically as a desert. And with all of Varos watching, the Doctor succumbs to the heat and collapses with his end as a close-up.

During the ordeal, Peri has been brought to the control center in the company of the Governor, Sil and the other officers. They question her as she watches them bring the Doctor’s body to an acid bath for disposal. It is also revealed that he is not dead, but his mind was influenced to make him believe he was dying of thirst in a desert. The Doctor suddenly stands up and walks over to the two attendants while their backs were turned. The surprise causes the first attendant to jump, pushing the second into the bath. A struggle ensues and the attendant is then pulled into the acid bath by the second who reaches up and grabs him. The Doctor strolls out with a morbid quip.

After making his way from the acid baths, the Doctor is cornered by Quillam, Varos’ chief scientist, and is taken away. Back in the control centre, it is decided that the Doctor and Jondar will be executed in a good "old-fashioned" way while Peri and Areta are to be reshaped with a cell mutator. The Doctor and Jondar are placed in the nooses while the Governor and Sil watch. At the last moment the Doctor questions the Governor about Sil and his extortion. Sil’s bodyguards rush the platform where the nooses are and pull the lever. But the two simply fall through the holes, the rope coming right off the support. As it turns out, there was to be no execution — it was all a way to get information out of the Doctor. The Doctor suspected this as he noticed that they were not being filmed.

The group then attempts to stop the cell mutator on Peri and Areta, but they are told it’s at too advanced a stage to stop. The Doctor and Jondar grab the weapons of nearby guards in an attempt to intimidate Quillam to deactivate the mutator. But it fails, and the Doctor resorts to shooting the entire control panel. The process has been stopped in the nick of time and Peri and Areta return to their original form. The four then escape back into the depths of the Punishment Dome towards a possible escape route. But Peri, still in a stupor after the effects of the mutator, is recaptured and taken to the control centre.

The Chief and Sil make their final move on the Governor in hopes that during the next vote he will be killed by the Human Cell Disintegration Bombardment, securing the way for them to control Varos and the Zeiton-7 ore. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Jondar, and Areta make their way into the End Zone of the Dome, where the exit is supposed to be. The vote starts and the bombardment begins, but the guard Meldak has a change of heart and stops the device, saving the Governor and Peri. The three then make their way to meet up with the Doctor through the ventilation ducts.

The Doctor’s group is then chased by two cannibals and loses them in some poisonous tendrils. The Chief and Quillam arrive on the scene but are entangled in the tendrils, killing them. They then meet up with Peri, the Governor, and Meldak. They all make their way back to the control centre and put an end to Sil’s plans of controlling Varos. The Galatron Mining Corporation also began to side with Varos; a second source of Zeiton-7 ore has been found, and Sil is ordered to obtain the Varosian ore at any price. The Doctor and Peri then bid the Governor farewell, taking the replacement ore with them.

The Governor issues a message to the citizens saying that there will be no more injustice, torture, and executions. Arak and Etta watch in disbelief, wondering what they’ll do with their new-found freedom.


  • This story begins very soon after Attack of the Cybermen. Peri lists a number of problems the Doctor has caused since they left Telos.
  • Sil was originally to have returned in a Philip Martin serial for the 23rd season entitled Mission to Magnus, but when the season was postponed and all planned stories scrapped, Sil's return instead occurred in Mindwarp. Martin later novelised Mission to Magnus, which was published in 1990. In 2009, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Nabil Shaban returned for an audio adaptation of Mission to Magnus.
  • The scenes including the Varosians Arak and Etta are completely detached from the story and the two are never encountered by the main characters.
  • A long-standing myth holds that the Doctor pushes one or two guards into an acid bath. During the serial's original broadcast, the series drew criticism for being too violent. However, the Doctor does not actually push the guards into the acid. One falls in by accident and then pulls the other in.


Serial details by episode
EpisodeBroadcast dateRun timeViewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 19 January 1985 44:42 7.2
"Part Two" 26 January 1985 44:43 7.0
  • This story was written as a replacement for a serial called Song of the Space Whale by comics writer Pat Mills.[5]
  • Working titles for this story included Domain and Planet of Fear (the latter being vetoed for being too similar to the previous season's Planet of Fire).[5]
  • The story was first written for the 1982 season, but was repeatedly pushed back and re-written. In its final draft, the story had a number of comedic sequences, most of which wound up being cut, and one of which, the acid bath sequence, was played seriously. The result was that the final story was much darker than originally intended. The more grim acid bath sequence was much criticised for its tone and for the Doctor's flippant remark at the end of the scene.
  • During the first recording of the noose execution scene, part of the set collapsed under the weight of the actors. Fortunately, this did not happen when Baker and Connery actually had their necks in the nooses (although in that case, for safety reasons the nooses were not actually tied up).[6]

Cast notes

In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Vengeance on Varos
Series Target novelisations
Release number 106
Writer Philip Martin
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist David McAllister
ISBN 0-426-20291-0
Release date

21 January 1988 (Hardback)

16 June 1988 (Paperback)

A novelisation of this serial, written by Philip Martin, was published by Target Books in January 1988. It was originally planned to be released 2 years earlier, but was pushed back after delays in the delivery of the manuscript by Philip Martin. However, it kept its original number of 106. In addition, although Target had launched a new cover design format for the books with the previous volume, Time and the Rani, reflecting the new series logo of the Sylvester McCoy era, Vengeance on Varos was published with the earlier book cover format using the neon-tube logo of the Baker-Davison era.

In 1997 the novel was also issued by BBC Audio as an audio book, read by Colin Baker.

VHS and DVD releases

  • This story was released on VHS in the UK in 1993 as part of the Doctor Who 30th Anniversary celebrations.
  • It was released on DVD in the UK on 15 October 2001.
  • The DVD commentary is provided by actors Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), and Nabil Shaban (Sil).
  • A Special Edition DVD was released on 10 September 2012.[7]


  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 139. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Vengeance on Varos". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  3. ^ "Vengeance on Varos". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Vengeance on Varos". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  5. ^ a b Vengeance on Varos at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
  6. ^ The Colin Baker Years, BBC Video 1994, at 34 minutes from beginning of video
  7. ^ "Doctor Who Vengeance On Varos (DVD)". Retrieved 18 July 2012.

External links


Target novelisation

Direct download: 276_TDP_276__Vengance_on_Varos_-Spec.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 8:15am UTC