Galaxy 4 was the first story of the third season of Doctor Who, although it was recorded after The Time Meddler as part of the series' second recording block. Its third episode, "Air Lock", achieved the highest ratings of any episode between the final episode of The Web Planet and the final episode of The Three Doctors. Indeed, "Air Lock" is one of the few episodes from pre-BBC Wales Doctor Who to have ranked amongst the top fifteen shows of its initial broadcasting week.
It is the earliest non-historical story to have missing episodes. Until the recovery of "Air Lock" in 2011, it was notable for the extreme paucity of its surviving material. Because no telesnaps were taken during broadcast, photographic evidence for this story was effectively limited to publicity shots (with only one photograph of the Rills) and a six minute excerpt from "Four Hundred Dawns".
Actor Peter Purves has been outspoken in his distaste for the serial, which was originally written for Ian, Barbara and Vicki. He has frequently opined that his character, companion Steven Taylor, was not well-served because the hurried rewrite mostly transferred Barbara's lines to him, resulting in a "feminisation" of Steven's character.
The Doctor, Vicki and Steven arrive on an arid planet where they meet the beautiful Drahvins and the hideous Rills. Each have crash-landed after a confrontation in space. The Rills are friendly, compassionate explorers. The Drahvins are dull-witted, cloned soldiers, terrorised by the intelligent, warlike matriarch Maaga.
Both ships are damaged. The Drahvins' craft is irreparable. The Rills' is almost ready to take off. Although unable to breathe the oxygen atmosphere, they employ efficient robot drones, which Vicki nicknames 'Chumblies'. Despite numerous offers by the Rills to take Maaga and her crew to safety, she refuses their aid. When the planet is discovered to be on the point of disintegration, Maaga tries to force the time travellers to help her steal the Rills' ship and kill the Rills. Instead, the Doctor allows the Rills to draw power from the TARDIS to refuel and escape, leaving the Drahvins to their fate.
Four Hundred Dawns (1)
The First Doctor, Vicki and Steven Taylor arrive on an eerily silent, unnamed planet. The Doctor evaluates the planet and discovers that it can sustain life but seems to have nothing living on it. This riles the curiosity of the Doctor, who is keen to investigate this anomaly. Steven is more interested in finding somewhere to swim. Just before they exit the TARDIS the crew discover a small robot feeling its way around the ship before communicating with something else with a glowing antenna. Vicki christens the machines Chumblies.
Once the Chumbley has left the TARDIS the Doctor and his companions go out and explore the planet. It has three suns and vegetation but, as yet, no sign of animals. Before they can get far, the Chumbley returns. It indicates to the Doctor and his friends that it wants them to follow it. Stevenis wary. He tries to attack it. In a show of force, the machine produces a gun from its shell and sets fire to a plant. The Doctor and his companions are led away.
They have not got far when a group of women laying in wait for the Chumbley throw a metal mesh on the machine and deactivate it. The women introduce themselves as Drahvins, from the planet Drahva in Galaxy Four. They say that the robots are controlled by a race called the Rill. They are not to be trusted. The Drahvins say that they will take the travelers back to their ship for safety and to introduce them to their leader, Maaga. However when they try to remove the mesh they find it is attached magnetically to the Chumbley. Before they can make their escape three more Chumblies appear and force the travelers and the Drahvins to flee. The newChumblies remove the metal mesh from the prone Chumbly, which reactivates itself and they head off in pursuit of the Doctor.
The Doctor, his companions and the Drahvins make it to the Drahvin spaceship. There they are reprimanded by Maaga for the loss of the metal mesh. After Maaga has dismissed the Drahvins, she addresses the Doctor and his companions. She explains that the Drahvins are a powerful race of women warriors who use men only for hunting. They were exploring in this part of the galaxy when their ship was shot down by the Rill. They are desperate to get off the planet because the Rill have informed them that the planet will explode in fourteen days. Their plan is to capture the Rill ship and escape.
Steven is suspicious of the Drahvin. It seems to be they who are in the wrong rather than the Rill. His position is strengthened when Maaga reveals that the Rill have offered help but the Drahvin have refused for fear of being killed.
This story is interrupted when Chumblies approach the ship. The Drahvin attack them and the Chumblies deactivate briefly, but then go on their way. Playing on the suspicions that Steven has roused in the Drahvin, the Doctor says that he is a scientist. He will learn if the planet is to explode in a fortnight and see if the Rill have been misleading the Drahvin. The Drahvin agree to this but demand one of the TARDIS crew stays with them. They insist that this is not a matter of hostages, but to have fewer unaccompanied people wandering the planet. Vicki volunteers to stay and the Doctor reluctantly assents.
When the Doctor and Steven arrive at the TARDIS they find a Chumbley trying to break the TARDIS' force barrier. Steven and the Doctor hide until the Chumbley leaves. Back at the Drahvin ship, Maaga humiliates the other Drahvins for losing the metal mesh, blaming them for ruining the whole mission.
After trying to break into the TARDIS the Chumbley gives up. The Doctor and Steven enter the TARDIS. Iinside the Doctor consults his Astral Map and finds the planet doesn't have a fortnight until its destruction. It has only two days!
Trap of Steel (2)
The Doctor and Steven decide that they must immediately leave the TARDIS and go and save Vicki and warn the Drahvins of the planet's imminent explosion however they are prevented from leaving the TARDIS immediately because the Chumblies return, this time trying heavy explosives. This also fails to gain them access but does knock the Doctor and Steven off there feet. Luckily it does no damage to the TARDIS. Once it is safe, the Doctor and Steven run back to the Drahvins' ship.
Back at the Drahvin ship Vicki is fed up with the poor food she is being fed and is concerned as to the well being of her friends but Maaga refuses to let her leave.
By this time Steven and the Doctor have got back to the Drahvin ship. Steven points out that the ship is of rather poor quality and made of a metal that the Chumblies ray would be able to penetrate. The Doctor ponders as to why the Chumblies have not destroyed their 'enemies.' Once back inside the ship the Doctor initially hides the truth from the Drahvin and yet again tries to convince the Drahva to befriend the Rills and get them to work together - however yet again Maaga rejects this. Maaga begins to become suspicious of the Doctor and pulls a gun on him in order to find out if it is true that they have fourteen until the planet's demise. Forced into telling the truth the Doctor admits that they only have two days. The Doctor suggests that he go and bargain with the Rill in place of Maaga and see if he can negotiate a peace treaty of some kind. The Drahva agree but want to keep Vcki as an insurance policy again. Steven demands that he be kept behind instead and Vicki and the Doctor leave for the Rill ship.
Left alone with the Drahva Steven tries to create disharmony between Maarga and her minions by highlighting to the followers that they have inferior food and are not allowed to be armed. Maarga overhears this and puts a stop to Steven's plan. She tries to convince Steven to pilot the TARDIS off the planet with the Drahvas but Steven refuses saying that even if he wanted to he doesn't know how. Facing an impasse Steven is forced to stay on his own on the ship. Soon he falls asleep
Trapped by a Chumbly patrol the Doctor and Vicki are forced to "observe, note, collate and the conclude" the Chumblies routine. Impatient with this Vicki decides to test a theory that she has with regards to the Chumblies by throwing a stone behind the machine. The Doctor is initially annoyed at Vicki but she states that she has thought that the Chumblies can only detect what is in front of them. With this knowledge they conclude that they can follow one back to the Rill ship rather than wander aimlessly in the general direction that the Drahva pointed them in.
Back at the Drahvin ship Maaga informs her minions that they are to break into the Rill spaceship and wipe out the inhabitants in order to use their ship to escape.
By this time the Doctor and Steven have arrived at the Rill compound which possesses a drilling rig and an air purifier - the Doctor is impressed with the handiwork of the Rill. The Doctor and Vicki explore the compound ensuring that they avoid Chumblies at all cost. As they explore Vicki remarks that she can smell ammonia and that they smell is increasing the closer they get into the centre of the compound. Soon they arrive in, what appears to be, a repair shop for Chumblies as they explore a large scaly creature appears at the window causing Vicki to scream.
Air Lock (3)
Reacting to Vicki's terror the Doctor and Vicki try and escape the Rill centre, however it is not long before they are pursued by two Chumblies. They eventually reach a dead-end, barricaded by an iron gate. Rather than try and open the gate the Doctor decides that the best way of disarming the Chumblies is by tinkering with the apparatus that converts the air on the planet Drahva into ammonia. The Doctor assumes this is due to the fact that the Chumblies need the ammonia to survive. Whilst the Doctor is trying to corrupt the gas converter the Chumblies catch up with the travellers. Rather than shoot them the Chumblies indicate that they would like Vicki to come with them. The Doctor relents to this saying that it will give him more time to vandalise the converter.
Back at the Drahvin spaceship Maaga shares her frustration with the state of affairs with the other Drhavin warriors. She says that they are useless at strategy and that all they are worried about is killing. She goes on to share her theory that if the Doctor and Vicki are successful she plans to eventually go on to steal the Rill ship and leave the Rill and the humans on the planet to perish. Eventually she dismisses the Drahvins to patrol the perimeter leaving one to continue to guard the sleeping Steven. Little does Maaga know but Steven has been awake the whole time and has been listening to her plot.
Meanwhile at the Rill centre Vicki has been taken back to the area where the creature revealed itself to her. The Chumbley prods her towards the window where the creature lies. The creature appears. Suddenly a voice comes from the Chumbley, much to the shock and surprise of Vicki. Vicki soon learns that the Rill are creatures that control the Chumblies using their minds and speak through them once they are close enough to the tank where the Rill are forced to live since they crashed on the planet. Initially the Rill are hostile towards Vicki however they soon find out that the Drahvin have been misleading Vicki and go on to tell them the real story. They explain that the two spaceships met above the planet and that there was a stand off that lasted four days with both ships reluctant to turn their backs on the other. Eventually the Rill tried to leave but the Drahvin ship fired at them. As the Rill ship was crashing it managed to fire back at the Drahvin ship causing both ships to crash. After the crash the Rill tried to make contact with the Drhavins before they became too intolerant to the planet's atmosphere. They came across an injured Drahvin which they tried to help however Maaga soon found them and chased them off with a gun. As they left Maaga killed the wounded Drahvin warrior and went on to blame it on the Rills therefore setting up the hostility that survives to this day. As Vicki is listening to this story she suddenly realises that the Rill are not the enemy and that, if they are intolerant to the Earth's atmosphere, the Doctor's tinkering will mean that the Rill will be killed. She runs off to stop him from further destroying the gas converter.
At the Drahvin ship Steven slowly raises himself up from his bed remaining as silent as possible so as not to disturb the guard. He manages to sneak up to her and renders her unconscious. He takes her gun and tries to leave the ship, however as he goes Maaga comes up behind him. As he leaves he finds himself face to face with a Chumbley. He tries to turn back but the Drahvins are there pointing their guns at him. He finds himself trapped in the airlock that lies between the main ship and the outside world. Maaga gives Steven an ultimatum. He has three choices: he can either surrender his gun and return to the spaceship, face the Chumbley or suffocate as Maaga drains the air from the air lock. Steven is left to think as slowly the air leaves the room.
Vicki manages to get to the Doctor before he can break the system. Vicki explains the situation to the Doctor and they both go to the Rill. The Doctor manages to inform the Rill that their preparations for the planets explosion is severely behind due to their miscalculation with regards to the planet's extinction. This disturbs the Rill due to the fact that, although their ship is fixed they do not have the capabilities to transfer the gas they need into fuel. The Doctor informs them that he can help them do this using metal cord cable and a sort of jump lead that he has in his TARDIS. The Rills are pleased to hear this. However the joy is short lived as the Chumbley outside the Drahvin spaceship feeds back to the Rill that Steven is in danger. The Doctor and Vicki rush off to his aid accompanied by two Chumblies. They are soon stopped by a Drahvin warrior who thinks that the Doctor has betrayed them. Vicki tries to convince the warrior that the Chumblies are now under their control but the warrior attempts to shoot the Chumbley, however Vicki manages to disarm her. The Drahvin begs to be killed for not stopping the Chumbley's passage. The Doctor says that no one will be dying on this planet any time soon.
Back at the spaceship Steven decides that he would rather face the Chumbley than die or return to the Drahvins. He tries the door however it is now unable to be opened because of the air pressure. Steven is left struggling for breath.
The Exploding Planet (4)
With no time to spare a Chumbley fires an ammonia bomb into the Drhavin spaceship. At the same time they fire their weapon at the airlock freeing Steven. The Drhavin's flee from their spaceship where they are met by a hoarde of Chumblies. The Drhavin are warned by the Rill that for all these years they have been pacifist in their dealings with the Drhavin however now they have threatened to kill Steven they will threaten to kill in return. The Rill order the Drahvin back into the ship and tell them that if they are seen on the planet's surface again they will kill them. Once inside the ship Maaga blames the Drhavin that was on patrol for their current state of affairs and says that she will pay the ultimate price when they have more time on their hands. For the moment Maaaga lays out her plan: to destroy the Rill ship.
In the Rill ship the Doctor is putting the finishing touches to his plan to help give a jump start to the ship's engine using his TARDIS. He leaves Steven to recover in the Rill centre whilst he and Vicki return to the TARDIS to link it to the Rill ship's engine. Whilst left alone with the Rill, Steven expresses his doubts with regards to the benevolence of the Rill's actions. Steven suspects that if the Doctor cannot fix their ship the Rill will not let them go. The Rill implore that they would let the Doctor because they have no knowledge of conflict and would rather have a life saved than kill someone for no reason. Steven relents and apologises for his scepticism.
On the other side of the planet one of the Drahvin sneaks up behind the Chumbley guard that is ensuring the Drahvin's stay captive and destroys it. The message gets back to the Rill centre where the Doctor has hooked up his TARDIS. Steven is nervous at this development and is sure that the ship will not be powered up in time. The Doctor and the Rill ensure him that they should just about be able to complete the process before the planet explodes. As they discuss this a Drhavin bursts into the Rill centre. Before she can do any damage a Chumbley paralyses the Drahvin. In the aftermath Steven and Vicki cannot locate the Doctor. After calling for him they find him in the section of the Rill centre where the Rill can be clearly seen, where they were not allowed before. The Doctor invites them in and the Rill gives them permisso to enter. Whilst initially being shocked at their ugly appearance the humans and the Rill find a mutual understanding and the humans bid farewell to the Rill due to the fact that their ship is nearing completion.
Whilst this is happening the Drahvins are waiting outside the Rill camp. They are forced to fight off an army of Chumblies in order to get close to the Rill ship. They soon discover that their weapons are useless and decide to rush the ship.
With the ship now ready for flight the Rill sends a Chumbley to escort the Doctor and his companions to the TARDIS. As they make their way to the TARDIS the travellers watch as the Rill ship makes to the sky. Nearby the Drhavins despair at seeing their chance of salvation disappear into orbit. Maaga catches sight of the Doctor and his companions and the Drhavin try to catch up with them to hijack the TARDIS however the Doctor manages to dematerialise before the Drhavin reach their door. Seconds later the planet explodes destroying the Drahvin soldiers and Maaga.
Once on their travels the Doctor and his companion lament the fact that they have had precious little time for peace and quiet recently. Vicki looks down reflectively at a planet below and wonders what might be going on there.
On that planet, unbeknownst to the travellers, an anonymous astronaut has awakened in a dense jungle, remembering only that he "must kill" . . .
- The Doctor - William Hartnell
- Steven Taylor - Peter Purves
- Vicki - Maureen O'Brien
- Maaga - Stephanie Bidmead
- Drahvin One - Marina Martin
- Drahvin Two - Susanna Carroll
- Drahvin Three - Lyn Ashley
- Chumblies - Jimmy Kaye
- Chumblies - William Shearer
- Chumblies - Angelo Muscat
- Chumblies - Pepe Poupee
- Rill Voice - Robert Cartland
- Chumblies - Tommy Reynolds
- Garvey - Barry Jackson
- Rills - David Brewster, Peter Holmes, Brian Madge, Bill McAllister (all uncredited)
- Writer - William Emms
- Director - Derek Martinus
- Producer - Verity Lambert
- Script Editor - Donald Tosh
- Designer - Richard Hunt
- Assistant Floor Manager - Marjorie Yorke
- Assistant Floor Manager - Sue Willis
- Costumes - Daphne Dare
- Make-Up - Sonia Markham
- Production Assistant - Angela Gordon
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - Derek Hobday
- Studio Lighting - Ralph Walton
- Studio Sound - George Prince
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- The Astral Map makes an appearance again after it's debut outing in The Web Planet (TV story)
- The working title for this story was The Chumblies. (REF: The First Doctor Handbook)
- The continuity from this story continues through until The Daleks' Master Plan: at the end of episode 4, Vicki complains of a sprained ankle. As she contemplates the planet Kembel on the scanner, we move to a short scene with Garvey as he begins his transformation into a Varga plant. Garvey as a Varga later threatens Cory and Lowrey in Mission to the Unknown. When we next see the TARDIS at the beginning of The Myth Makers, Vicki still has the problem with her ankle. Finally, after taking off at the conclusion of The Myth Makers, the Doctor discovers Cory's reel of tape on Kemble during the first episode of The Daleks' Master Plan. Mission thus presents an unusual example of the story-to-story narrative flow that was commonplace in the Hartnell era.
- All four episodes of this story were thought lost, with only very limited material being held in the BBC archive. Episode 3 was recovered in July 2011, and its return was announced on 11 December 2011. 
- Six minutes worth of footage exists from "Four Hundred Dawns". The surviving clips come from a number of sources including a Lively Arts documentary Whose Doctor Who.
- Ian Levine claimed that the Doctor Who Appreciation Society obtained legal permission to privately screen this serial at a convention in 1978, only to find that the BBC had junked the episodes about three weeks prior. Later research subsequently showed this to be mistaken, as the DWAS never held any agreement to show the serial, and BBC Enterprises appear to have junked at least one of the episodes by the end of 1976.
- The soundtrack for the serial is intact and has been released commercially by BBC Audio, with linking narration provided by Peter Purves.
- The appearance of the Rills and the characters' reaction to it is similar to, if not based upon, Journey Into Space: Operation Luna.
- The Drahivns' use of clones was likely inspired by the novel Brave New World.
- The BBC partly own the rights to the Drahvins as they were jointly credited to William Emms and Verity Lambert; Emms created the (originally male) Drahvins, whilst Lambert made them female.
- The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's 1968 song 'Beautiful Zelda' included lyrics about "Beautiful Zelda from Galaxy Four", perhaps inspired by Galaxy 4.
- The stock music used for the soundtrack was performed by an experimental group called Les Structures Sonorés. They performed their music on glass tubes. Some of the same music was used in The Web Planet.
- Four Hundred Dawns - 9.0 million viewers
- Trap of Steel - 9.5 million viewers
- Air Lock - 11.3 million viewers
- The Exploding Planet - 9.9 million viewers
- A late change to the casting of the voice actor meant that Anthony Paul was credited in the Radio Times as providing the voice of the Rills for episode 3. (Robert Cartland was correctly named in the Radio Times.)
- William Emms was a school teacher who wrote in his spare time. (Although he had been a school teacher, he had been working as a full-time writer for four years before writing Doctor Who.)
- In Air Lock, the Rill twice refers to the robots as "Crumblies."
- Vicki refers to events of DW: The Space Museum.
- The Drahvins are part of the alliance of "everything, that ever hated" the Doctor in DW: The Pandorica Opens. (The Drahvins themselves are not seen, only mentioned. Their spaceship may be among those seen arriving, albeit unidentified on-screen.)
- When the Doctor laments that it is along time since they have had any peace and quiet he may be referring to DW: The Romans which is the previous on-screen example of him and his companions having any leisure time.
- Galaxy 4 takes place after ST: The Schoolboy's Story
- Galaxy 4 takes place before ST: Planet of the Bunnoids
Home video and audio releases
- Audio Release - An audio release of the of the television story remastered was released in 1999 by BBC Audiobooks with linking narration by Peter Purves on CD. This was re-released in 2010 as part of the box set Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes - Collection One.
- Video Release - A six-minute clip appears in the documentary The Missing Years, part of The Ice Warriors VHS box set.
- DVD Release - On Disc 1 of the Lost in Time DVD box set there is an 8mm off-air clip, while Disc 3 contains a six-minute clip in an updated version of the documentary The Missing Years.
- The BBC have recovered episode 3, "Air Lock". At present there has been no officially anounced release date. However it is likely that it will be released sometime in 2013.
- A reconstruction of this story has been made using the available images and audio by Loose Cannon Productions.
- In July 1994, Titan Books published the scripts for the serial as part of its Doctor Who: The Scripts line of books.
- Galaxy 4 at the BBC's official site (with video clips)
- Galaxy 4 at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Transcript of Galaxy 4
- Galaxy 4 entry at Encyclopaedia of Fantastic Film and Television
- Loose Cannon Productions reconstruction of Galaxy 4