- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Plot
- 3 Cast
- 4 Crew
- 5 References
- 6 Story notes
- 7 Continuity
- 8 Home video and audio releases
- 9 External links
- 10 Footnotes
Searching for the third segment to the Key to Time brings the Doctor and Romana I to present-day Earth, where the travellers have to contend with stone circles, Druidic rituals and a not-so-mythical goddess known as the Cailleach.
The Fourth Doctor and Romana I are about to embark on their search of the third segment of the Key to Time. The Doctor is excited to find that it is located on Earth, which Romana describes as his favourite planet. Romana has dressed herself in a fashionable Earth type outfit, including a pair of four-inch heels that the dismayed Doctor believes will be unsuitable for walking. They prepare to leave when a voice tells them to "beware the Black Guardian." At this, the Doctor reveals Romana was not sent on this quest by the President of the Time Lords, but rather by the all-powerful White Guardian, who wishes them to gather the Key to maintain galactic stability.
They venture outside to find themselves near the Nine Travellers, a group of cromlech or standing stones in Boscombe Moor, Cornwall. On the way, they see heavy indentations in the ground, which intrigue the Doctor. Also interested in the location is aged archaeologist Professor Amelia Rumford, who is surveying the stones with her friend, Vivien Fay.
The Doctor and Romana notice dried blood on the ground at the stones and Vivien tells them about the activities of a local druidic sect. The Doctor goes to meet its implied leader, Leonard de Vries. Romana, having difficulty walking in her heels, stays behind with Amelia and Vivien.
De Vries lives in a large property nearby, Boscombe Hall, built on the site of the Convent of the Little Sisters of Saint Gudula. Inside, de Vries and his maid, Martha, are chanting to the Cailleach, the Druidic goddess of war and magic. The Doctor interrupts and is entertained briefly by de Vries until his host sees the opportunity to knock him out. De Vries and his mistress, dressed in a hideous bird costume, aim to sacrifice him to the Cailleach.
Meanwhile, Amelia and Vivien prepare to go back to Vivien's cottage. They invite Romana to join them for a cup of tea, but she opts to stay at the circle to wait for the Doctor. After the others have left, Romana hears the Doctor's voice calling out to her. She calls out for him, and when he does not answer, she decides to investigate. Her high heels have caused her so much ilk, she pitches them and continues her search for the Doctor in her bare feet. Romana approaches a cliff edge, still hearing the Doctor call out. Something disturbs her, and she yells for it to keep back. She steps backward and falls over the edge.
Romana has grabbed onto the rock face and is clinging to the cliff just below the edge. Meanwhile, de Vries and Martha argue about the validity of sacrificing the Doctor, who is now awake and tied to one of the stones in the circle. The sacrifice is interrupted by the arrival of Professor Rumford, who frees the Doctor as the others flee. Neither the Doctor nor Amelia knows where Romana is, however. After discovering her abandoned shoes, the Doctor summons K9 to help find her. They are successful. Romana is relieved to see K9 but is surprisingly mistrustful when she sees the Doctor. After they pull her up from the cliff, K9 calms her by assuring Romana it is indeed the Doctor. They conclude that it must have been a doppelganger of him who pushed her off the cliff. They assume that whoever it is must be in possession of the third segment of the Key to Time and has found a way to utilise its shape-changing abilities. They decide de Vries can answer some questions and set off for Boscombe Hall — after Romana is allowed to return to the TARDIS so she can change clothes and switch into a pair of sturdy boots.
When the Doctor gets to the Hall, he finds de Vries and Martha have been crushed to death. The Hall is under attack by a pair of mobile giant stones like those from the moor. The Doctor and K9 repel the attack, causing the stones to retreat though the robot dog is badly damaged and needs repair in the TARDIS. More curious facts come to light: the Doctor works out that the stones need blood to survive.
Meanwhile, at Vivien's cottage, Romana has pieced together that the owners of the Hall and the preceding convent were all women. Wanting to know more, Romana and Rumford head out to the Hall, but when Romana discovers K9's weakened state, she leaves to take him to the TARDIS for repairs. Professor Rumford remains at the Hall with the Doctor and they continue to investigate. They soon find paintings of the previous owners of the Hall, and discover that they all had the same face — that of Vivien Fay.
Meanwhile, the woman in the bird costume has brought more stones (or Ogri, as she calls them) to life using poured blood. Romana ventures back to the stone circle and there finds Vivien in the costume. When challenged, she fires a weapon at Romana, causing her to disappear.
After dispensing with one of the stones pursuing them, the Doctor and Professor Rumford reach the stone circle. Vivien tells them Romana will be safe if the Doctor stops interfering with her activities. She then disappears in a similar fashion as Romana had done. The Doctor now identifies the stones as Ogri, a life form from Ogros in the Tau Ceti system. Two of them are still missing and moving around the countryside. Two innocent campers help quench their taste for blood.
The Doctor calculates that Romana and her captor must be in hyperspace. He builds a projecting device which he uses to transmit himself there. He arrives on a hyperspace craft which seems to be a prison vessel, and he frees Romana. 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 seal on the door, he has transgressed the law and should be eliminated.
K9 and Amelia have meanwhile been tasked with protecting the projector used by the Doctor to cross the dimensions, but they find themselves under attack from two 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 forever.
The Megara destroy one of the Ogri that threatens them. The Doctor has been tried in his absence by the Megara, an abrupt and unfair process dependent on the word but not the spirit of the law. He successfully petitions to conduct his own defence in an appeal. He puts Romana in the witness chair to establish that he broke the seal because he feared for the safety of the Megara. This also sets a precedent for the use of the truth assessor. He tries to draw Vivien Fay into the trial and get the Megara to subject her to the truth assessor, which will reveal her true identity to the court as the person whom they were originally set to put on trial 4000 years ago. When he calls "Vivien" to the stand, he argues she should be attached to the assessor like Romana. The Megara, however, deny his appeal on the grounds that she was not a direct witness to the crime for which he stands accused.
Nevertheless, the Doctor comes closer to the truth about "Vivien". He argues successfully for putting one of the two Megara on the stand, who tells the court the nature of the journey that has kept them in hyperspace for four thousand years. They are on a mission to find and try Cessair of Diplos, a criminal wanted for murder and the removal and misuse of the Great Seal of Diplos. The Megara states the seal has significant powers: transmutation, transformation and the ability to establish "hyperspatial and temporal coordinates".
Back at the stone circle, Amelia and K9 have repaired the projector and use it to beam Romana back from the hyperspace vessel — and the one surviving Ogri, which chases them. They find incriminating data at Vivien's cottage — cookery books in which a number of recipes containing citrus fruit juices have been crossed out; Amelia says that Vivien was allergic to citric acid. Romana returns to the spacecraft to await the verdict, an Ogri close behind her.
At the close of his trial, the Doctor is convicted and the Megara fire executing beams at him. He drags Vivien into the beams' focus. The energy is divided between them, so both survive. This forces the Megara to examine Vivien to see if she is badly hurt. The Doctor suggests they must examine her mind to check for damage. They find she is indeed Cessair of Diplos and she is charged with her crimes when she wakes. The last Ogri is confined in a cell aboard the ship to be returned to its own planet. Cessair is sentenced to confinement for fifteen hundred years and perpetual imprisonment, the sentences to run consecutively. Before she is turned into a stone on Boscombe Moor, the Doctor grabs her necklace — the Great Seal of Diplos, which is in fact the third segment of the Key to Time.
As the Megara bring up the matter of the Doctor's delayed execution, they suddenly return to their ship as it is about to leave. The Doctor set the controls to go, prior to his leaving the ship. The Doctor, K9 and Romana return to the TARDIS, thanking Amelia for her assistance. The Doctor uses the tracer to turn the third segment of the Key to Time to its proper form. As he struggles with putting it together with the other two, he looks over to Romana, reminded of her boasting of being good with such puzzles.
- Doctor Who - Tom Baker
- Romana - Mary Tamm
- Voice of K9 - John Leeson
- Professor Rumford - Beatrix Lehmann
- Vivien Fay - Susan Engel
- De Vries - Nicholas McArdle
- Martha - Elaine Ives-Cameron
- Voice of Megara - Gerald Cross, David McAlister
- Campers - James Murray, Shirin Taylor
- Writer - David Fisher
- Costumes - Rupert Jarvis
- Designer - John Stout
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Make-Up - Ann Briggs
- O.B. Lighting - Hubert Cartwright
- O.B. Sound - Vic Godrich
- Production Assistant - Carolyn Montagu
- Production Unit Manager - John Nathan-Turner
- Script Editor - Anthony Read
- Special Sounds - Liz Parker
- Studio Lighting - Warwick Fielding
- Studio Sound - Richard Chubb
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - Mat Irvine
- Producer - Graham Williams
- Director - Darrol Blake
- Visual Effects Assistants - Roger Perkins, Perry Brahan, Bill Pearson, Charlie Lumm (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Engineering Manager - Bob Wade (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Director's Assistant - Carol Kane (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- OB Cameramen - Trevor Wimlett, Mike Windsor (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Senior Cameraman - Reg Poulter (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Floor Assistant - Peter Leslie (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Assistant Floor Managers - Carol Scott, Nigel Taylor (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Make-Up Assistant - Eve Barker (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Dressers - Alice Gilbert, Liz Penbroke, Andre Sault (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Grams Operator - Andrew Hunter (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Technical Manager - Bob Warman (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- OB Scene Crew Supervisor - Bob Hare (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Vision Mixers - Nigel Finnis, Fred Law (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Properties Buyer - Robert Fleming (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- Design Assistant - Cassie Pusey (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- The Doctor indicates that he has met Albert Einstein.
- When Professor Rumford makes a negative remark about physicists, the Doctor seems offended.
- The Doctor answers negatively when asked by Professor Rumford if he comes "from outer space", and corrects her by saying he rather comes from what she would know as inner time.
- The Ogri aided Cessair of Diplos in contravening article 7954 of the Galactic Charter.
- K9 erases all memory banks concerning tennis after Romana casually tells him to "forget it" in response to a question.
- After being attacked by the Ogri, K9 is repaired by the TARDIS's molecular stabilisers.
- The only crystals Amelia Rumford finds in the house are Epsom salts.
- The Doctor mentions the Galactic Federation. It was destroyed when an all powerful justice machine found the Federation in contempt of court, and blew up the galaxy.
- The cells in the spacecraft contain a dead Wirrn and a non-functioning Kraal android.
- The Ogri are from the planet Ogros, a planet full of amino acid swamps.
- This is the third of six linked serials that comprise the whole of season 16, known collectively as The Key to Time.
- This story had the working titles of The Nine Maidens and The Stones of Time.
- Gerald Cross also provided the voice of the White Guardian in part one. He was uncredited on-screen, but was credited as "Voice of the Guardian" in Radio Times.
- Director Darrol Blake originally offered the role of Vivien Fay 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. Blackman would later appear in the Sixth Doctor serial Terror of the Vervoids, the third segment of The Trial of a Time Lord.
- The fifteenth anniversary of the programme took place on 23 November 1978, five days after the broadcast of part four. To commemorate this, Anthony Read asked David Fisher to write a new scene (expanded by Darrol Blake) featuring Romana and K9 surprising the Doctor with a cake (and a new identical scarf), celebrating his seven hundred fifty-first birthday. However, producer Graham Williams vetoed this idea as being too self-indulgent and the scene was never shot. Blake had already ordered a cake, and this was eaten by the cast and crew.
- This is the one hundredth Doctor Who story.
- Exteriors in this serial were videotaped rather than filmed, which is something that occurred only rarely before 1986. According to comments on the 2007 DVD release, director Darrol Blake made the decision to use only one medium because of a dislike of the discontinuity created by the constant switch between filmed exteriors and videotaped interiors. Although not discussed, the fact "exteriors" taking place at night were actually shot in the studio probably made it necessary from a practical point of view, too.
- 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.
- In the original script, the Doctor would have been seen at the end of part one leading Romana to the cliff's edge and pushing her off. Tom Baker refused to perform this, saying that it would upset young viewers to see "the Doctor" behaving in this manner, and adding that the "possessed Doctor" had been done to death. As a compromise, Baker agreed to let his voice be used calling "Romana!" (DCOM: The Stones of Blood)
- The location used for de Vries' house was actually a business college. As a prank, during location filming some students removed the TARDIS prop and relocated it to the nearby quarry. (INFO: The Stones of Blood)
- A frequently recounted, humorous, behind-the-scenes incident occurred during location filming (and is told yet again by John Leeson in the Getting Blood from the Stones featurette on the 2007 DVD). Tom Baker was filming on location with the remote-controlled K9; Leeson was in a van some distance away, providing K9's voice over a loudspeaker for Baker to act to. During a break in filming, using the two-way radio set up for feeding Leeson's voice to the set, Baker was seen by onlookers to be sitting down with K9 and doing the Times Crossword puzzle; Leeson discussed the puzzle with Baker, remaining in character as K9.
- According to the Getting Blood from the Stones featurette on the 2007 DVD release, the scene in which the Doctor and Romana embrace while preparing to be transported back to Earth constituted one of several visual in-jokes perpetrated by Tom Baker to play up his Doctor's utter asexuality, as the Doctor acts oblivious to being in close quarters with the lovely Romana. A similar scenario occurs in the catacombs during The Ribos Operation.
- Romana gives the TARDIS wardrobe a workout in this episode, appearing in three different outfits during the story (if one includes her costume held over from The Pirate Planet). During her audio commentary, Mary Tamm mentions that at least one scene had to be shot twice because she was wearing the wrong outfit the first time round.
- Director Darrol Blake explains during his audio commentary that the Megara were operated by two puppeteers (one of whom was John Thirtle) who were dressed in black and shot against a black background so that only the lights would show. These were then superimposed over footage of the other actors on set. The lights themselves were connected to the microphones of voice actors Gerald Cross and David McAlister so that they would burn brighter whenever one of the characters spoke.
- The story was based around a stone circle, a number of which were dotted around the British isles. Some of these dated back as far as the Neolithic period, and a great body of mythology had sprung up around them. David Fisher was inspired by several of these legends, such as tales of stones (called cycloliths) leaving a circle to travel back and forth across the countryside, as well as the belief that the number of stones in some circles varies depending upon the observer.
- The Ogri were originally envisioned as rocky-skinned humanoids who looked like regular stones only when stationary. To save costs, Darrol Blake elected to have the Ogri appear as large blocks throughout, although elements of the original idea — such as the large footprint found by the Doctor and Romana — remained in the script.
- The scene where the Ogri absorb the blood of the two campers was inserted at the last minute to dispel any comedic notion that the Ogri might kill by falling on people and crushing them to death.
- The Megara were originally depicted as floating metal orbs. This was changed to floating lights, because it was deemed too similar to Star Wars.
- Beatrix Lehmann was very popular with the cast and bought John Leeson a camera. According to Darrol Blake, she only agreed to a guest role to see how K9 worked.
- Children of the Stones
- Part one - 8.6 million viewers
- Part two - 6.6 million viewers
- Part three - 9.3 million viewers
- Part four - 7.6 million viewers
- The BBC received over eight hundred complaints for the graphic portrayal of headless corpses in part two. While it is plausible the BBC received some complaints there has never been any factual (i.e. news reports) evidence revealed to say they received as many as 800 complaints.
- The exteriors of this story were filmed on location at the Rollright Stones, a real megalithic site in central England. An actual legend of the site states that it is impossible to count the stones. As the serial ends, the Doctor notes that the number of stones in the circle has changed (due to the removal of three Ogri and the addition of Cessair's imprisoned form) and suggests Professor Rumford write a monograph about it. In 2007, Mary Tamm returned to the site to tape a featurette for the DVD release of the story in which she interviewed local historians about the site.
- Brewery Row, Little Compton, Warwickshire
- The King's Men, Rollright Stones, Little Rollright, Oxfordshire
- Little Rollright Quarry, Oakham Road, Little Rollright, Oxfordshire (Location of the "cliff" that Romana falls off)
- Reed College (now known as Reed Business School Ltd), Little Compton, Warwickshire
- Manor Farm, Oakham Road, Little Rollright, Oxfordshire (Location of the TARDIS' arrival)
- BBC Television Centre (TC3), Shepherd's Bush, London
- When the Doctor and Amelia are first chased by the Ogri, two crew-members are quite clearly visible in the doorway manipulating the creature. One appears in the right side of the doorway just after the Ogri enters, the other can be glimpsed behind the Ogri itself, pushing it forward.
- At minute 12 of part four, when Romana calls Professor Rumford into the kitchen, a boom microphone is visible in the top left of the shot for a few seconds.
- In the Getting Blood from the Stones featurette on the DVD release, director Darrol Blake claims you can see one of the Ogri prop's wheels when it falls over a cliff.
- When the Doctor and Amelia are on the cliff being chased, a van can be seen in the background right after she says, "We're trapped."
- The Doctor and Romana are still on their quest to find all six segments of the Key to Time. (TV: The Ribos Operation) They are just putting away the second segment of the Key, which they have recently retrieved. (TV: The Pirate Planet)
- Modified Ogri appear in PROSE: Legacy.
- The Doctor previously faced another alien threat which used stone circles for teleportation in AUDIO: Vengeance of the Stones.
Home video and audio releases
- This story was released along with The Ribos Operation, The Pirate Planet, The Androids of Tara, The Power of Kroll and The Armageddon Factor as Doctor Who: The Key to Time. This October 2002 release was only in Region 1. Extras include commentary by Mary Tamm and Darrol Blake, a photo gallery and production information subtitles.
- A vanilla release was issued as issue 67 of Doctor Who DVD Files.
Contents (2007/2009 version):
- Commentary by Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Susan Engel and David Fisher.
- Commentary by Mary Tamm and Darrol Blake (carried over from the 2002 set).
- Getting Blood from the Stones - Cast and crew look back at the making of The Stones of Blood, including Mary Tamm, John Leeson, Susan Engel, David Fisher, Anthony Read, Darrol Blake and Mat Irvine.
- Hammer Horror - A short featurette considering the influences of horror films on Doctor Who stories over the years.
- Stones Free - A 2007 featurette in which Mary Tamm visits the Rollright Stones to meet experts on this ancient stone circle.
- Deleted Scenes - Deleted footage from Part 2.
- The Model World of Robert Symes - An excerpt from a 1979 programme looking at the modelwork for The Stones of Blood.
- Blue Peter & Nationwide - The two BBC magazine programmes celebrate Doctor Who's 15th anniversary. The Nationwide segment includes interviews with Carole Ann Ford, Mary Tamm and Tom Baker.
- Continuities - Off-air continuity links from the story's original BBC1 transmission.
- Radio Times Billings - Original listings from Radio Times (DVD-ROM PC/Mac)
- Coming Soon Trailer - Planet of Evil (2007 UK version only)
- Production Subtitles
- Photo gallery (2009 Region 1 version)
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
The Key to Time boxed set covers
- The story is available for streaming in the US through Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video in the UK.
- The Stones of Blood at the BBC's official site
- The Stones of Blood at RadioTimes
- The Stones of Blood at BroaDWcast
- The Stones of Blood at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Stones of Blood at The Locations Guide