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Planet of Fire was the fifth serial in season 21 of Doctor Who. In addition to being the penultimate adventure to regularly feature Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, the story featured the final regular appearance of Mark Strickson as Vislor Turlough, the destruction of Kamelion and the introduction of Peri Brown. It was Peter Grimwade's final script and Fiona Cumming's last directorial turn for the programme. For Turlough's last story, it was decided that his mysterious past, outlined in Mawdryn Undead, should be explored.

Exteriors were shot on location in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. The location was chosen after Cumming promoted it with photos from her holiday. Grimwade decided to use the island for multiple settings and the island's volcanic landscape also doubled for the planet Sarn. Grimwade had trouble writing for the setting, having never been there. John Nathan-Turner denied Grimwade's request to accompany the select members of the crew to the island, as he felt writers were not needed. (INFO: Planet of Fire)

Planet of Fire also had a notable guest cast: Peter Wyngarde had starred as flamboyant amateur detective Jason King in Department S and Jason King, while Barbara Shelley had appeared in various Hammer horror films.


A strange signal from Earth draws the TARDIS to the island of Lanzarote, where Turlough rescues a young American girl, Peri, from drowning. Among her possessions is an artefact bearing an alien symbol - the same triangular mark that Turlough has branded into his arm.

The mystery deepens when Kamelion falls under the control of a powerful mind, and the TARDIS travels to the volcanic world of Sarn. As Turlough is forced to face his past, the Fifth Doctor must stop his oldest enemy from harnessing the revitalising powers of Numismaton gas...


Part one[]

On the desolate volcanic planet Sarn, chief elder Timanov counsels the young Chosen One Malkon on how to act in the wake of increased seismic activity, heralding the imminent volcanic catastrophe known as the Time of Fire. Their god Logar, the devout Timanov warns, is greatly displeased at the number of unbelievers. As the Chosen One – so chosen due to the triangular "Mark of Logar" on his arm – Malkon has sole authority to assign heretics to burn in the Cave of Fire and thereby appease their god. Malkon doubts his resolve to condemn unbelievers to death. Meanwhile, two such unbelievers, Amyand and Roskal, scale the forbidden Mountain of Fire – believed to be Logar's dwelling place – and find the crater at the top empty. Now fully convinced that Logar is a myth, they return to the village to spread the news.

As the Fifth Doctor muses bitterly about Daleks and the departure of Tegan, Kamelion's agonised cries are heard from an adjoining room. He has linked himself to the TARDIS data core. The TARDIS then picks up a distress signal; Turlough recognises the pattern and is sufficiently dismayed that he disables the communicator to stop the signal. The TARDIS coordinates have been changed, apparently by Kamelion, and they are en route to the source of the signal, the island of Lanzarote.

American archaeologist Howard Foster and his team are trolling the nearby seabed for ancient relics. Among the artefacts they pull up is a strange, anachronistic metal object also bearing the Mark of Logar. Howard's restless stepdaughter Peri Brown, accompanying the expedition while on holiday from university, is bored and wants to travel with her friends to Morocco. Howard appears to relent but strands her on the boat to make her miss her flight. Peri is furious at Howard but finds his wallet full of money and the alien object he fished out of the lake. She thinks it may be worth some money. Peri strips to her bikini and stuffs the artefact, Howard's money and her clothes into a plastic bag. She then jumps in the sea and begins swimming to shore.


The Doctor's currency of unknown origin.

While the Doctor explores the island trying to find the source of the signal, Turlough has returned to the TARDIS, where he finds Kamelion at the console trying to establish contact with an unknown entity. Turlough overloads the console to disable him, thinking the signal may be from Trion. On the monitor, he sees Peri struggling in the water and beginning to drown. He runs out of the TARDIS, strips to his bathing suit, jumps into the water and swims out to her. He pulls her ashore and takes her to Tegan's old room to recuperate. He finds the alien artefact in the bag, pulling up his sleeve to show that he too bears the Mark of Logar on his arm. While Peri tosses and turns, muttering incoherent apologies, Kamelion seizes on her psychic impulses and transforms into Howard. The Doctor has traced the signal back to the artefact now in the TARDIS. The doors close and the TARDIS takes off automatically, apparently returning the object to its planet of origin, Sarn. Kamelion enters as Howard, but his mannerisms are like someone else's. After putting her clothes back on over her swimsuit, Peri enters the control room, confused as to where she is.

In the great hall on Sarn, Timanov and Malkon attempt to quell the citizens' unrest due to the impending Time of Fire. The arrival of Amyand and Roskal with the news of their findings causes even more disruption. A desperate Timanov calls for a sign from Logar, and a burst of flame from the Cave of Fire is the apparent answer. Timanov says this is a call from Logar to burn the unbelievers. Just then, a lookout announces the arrival of the TARDIS, describing it in a way that corresponds with their legend of the Outsider, a representative of Logar. Timanov urges Malkon to condemn the heretics, but he hesitates.

Once the Doctor and Turlough leave to explore, "Howard" announces that contact has been established and that he now has control of the TARDIS. As he laughs maniacally, his features change into those of the Master before Peri's horrified eyes.

Part two[]

The Doctor and Turlough explore the apparently deserted village square finding the triangular pattern, which Turlough identifies as the Misos Triangle, etched on a column. The Misos Triangle is an emblem of Turlough's home planet, Trion, but he is not forthcoming with further details. They do not notice another TARDIS materialising nearby.

The Master's control of Kamelion is tenuous, and the shape-shifting robot momentarily regains self-control. He removes the TARDIS's comparator and urges Peri to give it to the Doctor, but then loses his self-will and his form shifts back to the Master. He pulls her out into the village square towards the Master's TARDIS, but a sudden tremor knocks it over, door-side down and a large rock falls, hitting Kamelion and causing him to fall over, allowing Peri to escape into the desolate wilderness. The Master, trapped inside his TARDIS, orders Kamelion to pilot the Doctor's TARDIS inside his own, but without the comparator it won't function.

Turlough misos triangle

Turlough reveals his Misos Triangle to Malkon.

The unbelievers storm the great hall, having found and befriended the Doctor and Turlough, displaying the travellers as the Outsiders. Turlough discovers the Misos Triangle on Malkon's arm, showing his own. He is convinced that the relics in the hall are from his father's ship and that Malkon might be his younger brother. Malkon describes how he was found in the Place of Fire as an infant, and Turlough convinces him to take him there, where they find the wreckage of a crashed spaceship. They encounter Peri, who had been wandering lost since eluding "the Master". When Turlough learns that the Master is involved, they dash back to the village to warn the Doctor.

The Doctor, however, finds himself at the mercy of Timanov and his own Outsider, Kamelion/the Master. Under the "Master's" sway, Timanov orders the sacrifice of the unbelievers to the flame. "The Master" demands the return of the comparator, which the Doctor doesn't have, as his new allies are pushed toward the mouth of the Cave of Fire.

Part three[]

Malkon demands that the execution cease, but is shot down in the ensuing struggle. Timanov has the unbelievers and the Doctor locked into the cave with the flame. Turlough uses a Trion relic to remotely disable the sacrificial flame, which Timanov shows as a sign of displeasure from Logar at Malkon's apparent assassination. Still fooled by the "Master", Timanov leads a team in helping to shift the Master's TARDIS, but once upright, "the Master" pulls Peri inside and dematerialises. Turlough arrives and releases the Doctor and the unbelievers from the cave.

The Doctor struggles to figure out why the Master is on Sarn, and how to rescue the citizens from the impending doom of the volcanic eruption. He also reasons that the Trions had a more productive use for the Cave of Fire than mere sacrifice. Timanov speaks of a time when he was young, and he encountered Logar who took him to a bath of blue flame that rejuvenated him.

The Master's TARDIS materialises in a control room deep below the volcano. "The Master" enlists Peri's assistance, on pain of death from his Tissue Compression Eliminator weapon, in controlling the machinery there to harness the power of Numismaton Gas, which is indeed a bright blue flame renowned for its healing properties. The Doctor takes advantage of the presence of the Numismaton flame to heal the ailing Malkon in the Cave of Fire. Eluding the Kamelion/Master and ducking into the Master's TARDIS, Peri locates what she reasons must be Kamelion's control box. Lifting the lid, she finds the Master lurking within, reduced to mere inches in height.

Part four[]

The Master, having accidentally shrunk himself while attempting to upgrade his TCE weapon, seeks the power of the Numismaton Gas to restore himself. He constructed the control box to re-establish contact with his slave Kamelion to help him reach Sarn.

Peri accidentally knocks the Master's control box over which allows the Master to escape into his TARDIS. Peri tries to track him down and swat him with her shoe, but he escapes and hides in the TARDIS console. There, he taunts Peri and shorts the controls to open the TARDIS door. Peri runs out and into the wilderness.

The Doctor and Amyand, with Peri's help, have reached the Numismaton gas control room. They find protective metallic suits which correspond with the traditional image of Logar. The Doctor realises that the Trions have used the control room to regulate the seismic activity, but the impending eruption will be too big to control. The Doctor sends Amyand back to the ruins wearing the only remaining suit.

Kamelion pilots the Master's TARDIS into the blue flame and brings out the control box, bearing the Master within. As Kamelion advances menacingly on the Doctor with the TCE, he overloads the gas control circuitry to give Kamelion a near-fatal "heart attack". Kamelion, now freed from the Master's control, begs for destruction, and the Doctor complies with the TCE.

The Master is restored to full height by the Numismaton gas and gleefully describes the tortures that await the Doctor at his hands. But the Doctor's fiddling with the controls cuts off the gas, leaving the Master to burn in the full power of the naked flames. The Master's pleas for mercy go unheeded and the Doctor watches as his enemy is apparently consumed by fire.

Turlough doctor goodbye

Turlough bids the Doctor goodbye.

Turlough, despite his status as a Trion political prisoner, swallows his pride and manages to re-activate the communication system in the wreckage of his father's ship, summoning a Trion rescue ship to pick up the Sarn survivors. Timanov, humbled by his easy manipulation by the Master in the name of his god, declines rescue and opts to perish in the ensuing volcano. Acting on instructions from the Doctor, Turlough programs the TARDIS to rescue the Doctor and Peri from the gas control room before it is destroyed. The Trion captain Lomand informs Turlough that due to a general amnesty, his exile has been lifted and he is free to return home. Turlough thanks the Doctor for everything, and the two warmly bid each other farewell. Peri, on the other hand, asks to travel with the Doctor for the remaining three months of her vacation. The Doctor agrees, and he welcomes her aboard the TARDIS as it takes flight.


Uncredited cast[]


Uncredited crew[]


Cultural references to real-world[]

  • Peri mentions the deities Poseidon and Hephaestus.
  • The Doctor guesses that a kouros is dated late Classical period and a work by a pupil of Praxiteles.
  • Peri hints that her mother is busy exploring a Cro-Magnon cave.




  • Peri's summer studying includes an ecology project.
  • The volcanic activity on Sarn produces Numismaton Gas, "an immensely rare catalytic reagent" with great healing properties.




Story notes[]

  • This story had the working title of Planet of Fear.[1]
  • Kamelion appears for the first time since The King's Demons the previous season; complications involving the robot model prevented him from appearing in other episodes, although a scene was filmed for The Awakening but edited out before transmission. Kamelion's "death" makes him the fourth known companion to die while travelling with the Doctor, following Katarina, Sara Kingdom, and Adric.
  • It was during the production of this serial that Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant participated in their infamous "James Bond" photo shoot, in which Davison donned a tuxedo and prop gun and Bryant a bikini.
  • This is the only televised Fifth Doctor story not to visually contain Tegan Jovanka. The Doctor's reference to Tegan at the beginning of part one means that she was technically a part of every single one of his television stories in some way. This also occurred with Peri Brown, who appeared (or, if you discount The Trial of a Time Lord as as a single story, either appeared or was mentioned) in every Sixth Doctor story, Rose Tyler, who appeared in every episode during the Ninth Doctor era, and Yas with the Thirteenth Doctor.
  • This was the final serial to feature a male companion until the series revival in 2005. Turlough was the last regular male companion seen on screen — barring the guest returns of Jamie McCrimmon in The Two Doctors (TV story) and Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in Battlefield in 1989 — until Adam Mitchell appeared in the two stories TV: Dalek and TV: The Long Game in 2005. However, there were several non-televised male companions to have travelled with the Doctor in other media between Turlough and Adam, including Frobisher, Thomas Brewster, Hex and C'rizz.
  • The departure of Turlough and the destruction of Kamelion mark the end of an almost seven-year span of stories featuring at least one non-human companion. It began with the introduction of the robot dog K9 Mark I in TV: The Invisible Enemy in 1977. The other non-human companions who travelled with the Doctor in the interim were K9 Mark II, the first and second incarnations of the Time Lady Romana, the Alzarian Adric and the Trakenite Nyssa. Turlough and Kamelion would be the final non-human companions to appear in a televised Doctor Who story, until the guest reappearance of K9 Mark III in TV: School Reunion in 2006. Turlough would also be the last non-human companion and last male companion to travel alone with the Doctor until Nardole became a companion in TV: The Return of Doctor Mysterio.
  • The combined Radio Times cast for parts one/two incorrectly credits Nicola Bryant as "Perpugillian Brown" and Gerald Flood as "Voice of Kamelior".
  • The Master's final line before apparently being killed is directed squarely at the Doctor: "Won't you show mercy to your own ..." According to the DVD commentary, Fiona Cumming asked John Nathan-Turner how the line was to end, to which he replied, "brother". However, Anthony Ainley never said the word in any take captured on video. Therefore fans were free to speculate about how the line was to have ended. In TV: The Sound of Drums, the Tenth Doctor strongly implies that the Master was not his brother.
  • In PROSE: Shell Shock, it is strongly implied that Howard sexually abused Peri when she was younger. Some read this as supporting Peri's dream-state behaviour in this story where she shouts out Howard's name after saying, "Don't turn out the light." However, by concentrating on just these two lines, the two previous lines —"No, Howard. Please don't leave me alone." — are conveniently ignored. It's somewhat unlikely that a person plagued by parental abuse would be begging for the abuser to stay with her. Indeed, the DVD commentary makes it very clear the production team were aiming for a positive, friendly relationship between the two characters and there's not much more than Shell Shock which suggests anything improper between Howard and Peri. In fact, AUDIO: The Reaping details the reasons for the divorce of Howard and Peri's mother Janine Foster and completely fails to mention any sort of sexual abuse. Shell Shock is thus one view of the relationship between Peri and Howard, which has never been supported clearly by any performed Doctor Who.
  • The story was the second of three consecutive serials, along with Resurrection of the Daleks and The Caves of Androzani, that saw the departure of one of the season's regular cast members. In this serial, Mark Strickson departs as Turlough.
  • Peter Grimwade was furious at the casting of Dallas Adams as Prof. Foster. He had written the part for an elderly man who evoked the spirit of archaeologist Howard Carter. This casting caused Grimwade to cut his links with the series.
  • The Master was originally supposed to be killed off for good, as Anthony Ainley's contract had expired.
  • Graeme Harper was attached to direct at one time. He ended up directing the following story instead.
  • The script originally contained commentary on issues of religious zealotry, something that was toned down by Eric Saward.
  • In the script, Peri forged a bond with the Doctor partly because he reminds her of her late father, who died at the same age as the Doctor now appears.
  • The Elder leader Timanov was written originally by Peter Grimwade as a parody of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini but this element was greatly reduced in rewrites by Eric Saward.
  • It was decided that because of the climate of Lanzarote, where the serial was filmed, the cast would have to alter their usual costumes.
    • Mark Strickson shed his usual school uniform in favour of a blue pin-stripe shirt and tan shorts with a pair of swim briefs underneath.
    • Nicola Bryant also wore a pink bikini beneath her clothes to which she stripped down for a couple of scenes.
    • Although Peter Davison started the story wearing his cricketer outfit, for the rest of the story, he wore a different pair of trousers with question mark braces and a beige floral cardigan-style waistcoat. He sheds the waistcoat and hat at one point and spends the latter part of the story in his shirt, trousers, and braces.
  • Peter Davison later said that his look of sorrow and remorse at having to kill Kamellion was pure acting, as he was genuinely glad to be rid of the troublesome prop.
  • Filming the scene where Turlough rescues Peri was bizarrely disrupted by a German naturist, who believed that Nicola Bryant was actually drowning when she filmed the scene of Peri struggling in the water. The man was very unhappy to learn that Bryant was just acting, and later ruined a take for a scene on the beach when he ran naked through the background of the shot.
  • On the last night in Lanzarote, Dallas Adams and Peter Wyngarde liberated some turtles kept in the hotel pool and released them into the sea, causing the police to be summoned.
  • John Nathan-Turner agreed to use Lanzarote as a setting after Fiona Cumming went there on holiday and sent him a postcard recommending it as a location. He still wasn't convinced. Cumming later went on another holiday there especially to convince him. She shot an entire roll of photos without any of her family in them, and then presented those photos to Nathan-Turner, saying that she meant it. He then agreed to have a story filmed on that location.
  • Peter Grimwade was chosen to write the script to compensate him losing the job directing Resurrection of the Daleks. Eric Saward felt he'd paid his dues to Grimwade, but felt that the script didn't work and it wasn't worth it in the end.
  • Kamelion morphs into the Master and Howard in order to avoid having to bring the cumbersome robot prop on location.
  • Peter Grimwade decided that Lanzarote would feature as two different locations in the story — the Greek island of Aeschyllos and the alien planet Sarn — to take advantage of the variety offered by the landscape. Grimwade was subsequently informed that the deal worked out between the production office and the Lanzarote Tourist Board meant that the Earthbound sections would actually have to be set in Lanzarote itself, forcing him to abandon some of the historical detail he had worked out. Grimwade found that writing for the Lanzarote locale was very difficult because of his unfamiliarity with the island. He had hoped to join the production team on a recce to Lanzarote in September, but was disappointed when John Nathan-Turner denied his request.
  • Peter Grimwade later said that the commission "was just an excuse for the producer to take his team on a gang-bang and a nice holiday. It didn't work at all. You don't just commission a story and set it in Lanzarote because you want a bloody holiday".
  • Stephen Garlick and Michael Troughton were interviewed for guest roles.
  • Eleanor Bron was originally considered for the role of Sorasta.
  • Mark Strickson and Nicola Bryant have both appeared in adaptations of A Christmas Carol. Strickson played the young Scrooge in the 1984 film and Bryant appeared in Blackadder's Christmas Carol.
  • Fiona Cumming was delighted when Peter Wyngarde accepted her invitation to play Timonov. However, he then seized upon the script's implication that the numismaton gases had greatly prolonged Timonov's life, and made worrisome suggestions about the character speaking and moving very slowly. Fortunately, he later changed his mind and decided to interpret Timonov as being in the mould of T.E. Lawrence.
  • Dallas Adams played Nicola Bryant's stepfather despite being thirteen years older than her.
  • According to Fiona Cumming on the commentary, Peri's passport was not specifically made for this production, but was, rather, the reuse of a passport that Dallas Adams had used in another production. Therefore, any details gleaned from freeze-framing the close-ups on the prop — such as her birth date and location — were not specific to Peri, but to the character Adams had played in the other production. Thus, they are technically production errors. Oddly, the production subtitles on the DVD champion the information contained within the passport, despite Cumming's revelations about the true origin of the prop.
  • This is the final story of the Classic Series to be a multi-companion story that isn't a Multi-Doctor story; Dragonfire doesn't count as Ace wasn't officially a companion until the ending.
  • Peter Wyngarde later recalled - "Planet of Fire was my first TV work since Jason King, and it nearly killed me on location in Lanzerote. The place is full of volcanoes, which is ideal for scenes of an alien planet, but it played hell with a trapped nerve in my back. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t walk properly, We came up with the perfect answer – give the priest a staff. Doctor Who fans will think it’s a prop, but I really needed it!"[2]


  • Part one - 7.4 million viewers
  • Part two - 6.1 million viewers
  • Part three - 7.4 million viewers
  • Part four - 7.0 million viewers

Filming locations[]

  • Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. This was the first Doctor Who story to include filming away from the European continent.
  • Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote
  • Orzola Jetty, Orzola, Lanzarote
  • Mirador del Rio, Lanzarote
  • Montañas del Fuego, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
  • BBC Television Centre (TC6 & TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • The studio and location shots of Turlough rescuing Peri don't quite match up. She's still wet from her near-drowning when Turlough gets her to the exterior of the TARDIS doors, but is dry when they cut to the interior, studio shot.

This really isn't Peri's passport at all, but one belonging to a man named Sydney who was born in New York in 1940

  • According to director Fiona Cumming in the DVD commentary, Peri's passport was not specifically made for this production, but was, rather, the reuse of a passport that actor Dallas Adams had used in another production. Therefore, any details gleaned from freeze-framing the close-ups on the prop — such as her birthdate and location — were not specific to Peri, but to the character Adams had played in the other production. Thus, they are technically production errors. Oddly, the production subtitles on the DVD champion the information contained within the passport, despite Cumming's revelations about the true origin of the prop.


Home video and audio releases[]

DVD releases[]

This story was first released on DVD in the UK on 14 June 2010 as part of the Kamelion Tales box set, alongside The King's Demons. The two-disc set includes a restored version of the story, as well as the following special features:

VHS releases[]

  • This story was released on video in UK and Australia / NZ in 1998 and the US in 1999.


  1. According to Planet of Fire at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel).
  2. https://peterwyngarde.uk/2017/07/03/review-doctor-who-planet-of-fire/

External links[]