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Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters

“The generators were built by the old Eternity Perpetual company. They were designed to last forever; that's why the company went bankrupt.”

Ahhhh, Robert Holmes. You magnificent bastard, how I have missed you. You've been gone far too long. Don't make a habit of it.

Thanks to Bob's gift for strong characterisation and humorous dialogue 'Carnival of Monsters' is a triumph of scriptwriting over budget limitations. Going in to season 10, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks knew that this was going to be a big affair. So this story was intended to be made on the cheap so money could be saved for the rest of the big anniversary season. As a result the planet Inter Minor and its inhabitants end up looking even more rubbish than usual.

Luckily, thanks to the strength of Holmes' witty script, 'Carnival of Monsters' is able to overcome any budgetary shortcomings. This is probably the closet thing the Third Doctor era has ever come to doing a comedy episode. It's pretty obvious that Holmes isn't taking any of this even remotely seriously. The scenes on the SS Bernice practically play out like a parody of some dodgy Doug McClure movie, complete with corny dialogue, rubbish monster and token romance.

Sticking with the light-heated tone, this is also one of those rare classic stories where absolutely no one dies. Yes, just this once, everybody lives! Which is even more impressive considering that Robert 'Bloodbath' Holmes wrote it. This is a man who never created a character he didn't want to kill off in the most gruesome way possible for a Saturday tea time. It must've nearly killed him not to have a scene where someone is ripped to shreds by a Drashig.

Notes and Quotes

--The Doctor and Jo were originally heading for Metabelis 3.

--This story was actually produced as part of the previous season's production block and held over.

--Kalik is played by none other than Davros himself, Michael Wisher.

--He might speak cat and baby but the Doctor obviously doesn't speak chicken.

--This story was originally titled 'Peepshow', Holmes preferred title. Terrance Dicks later changed it to 'Carnival of Monsters' before production started.

--This is the only time the Cybermen appear during the Third Doctor era.

Jo: “We're still on earth, aren't we?”
The Doctor: “No, that's impossible.”
Jo: “Don't you ever admit that you're wrong?”
The Doctor: “No. That's impossible, too.”

Orum: "They've no sense of responsibility. Give them a hygiene chamber and they store fossil fuel in it."

Pletrac: "The function of this tribunal is to keep this planet clean. This Tellurian creature comes from outside our solar system and is a possible carrier of contagion. Furthermore the creature may be hostile."
The Doctor: "Would you kindly stop referring to me as 'the creature,' sir. Or I may well become exceedingly hostile!"

The Doctor: “Hello. Topping day, what?”

The Doctor: “Jo, get up.”
Jo: “Not yet. I'm only half-cooked.”

Pletrac: “This tribunal is deliberating!”
The Doctor: “The tribunal is not deliberating. The tribunal is arguing. Quite nonsensically, I might add.”

Vorg: “You're telling me, my insurance doesn't cover the replacement of livestock.”
The Doctor: “Livestock?!”

Vorg: “Our purpose is to amuse, simply to amuse... nothing serious, nothing political.”

Three out of four films you might remember Doug McClure from.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. One of the better classic Who episodes I've seen so far. At least all the endless being captured and escaping had a logical reason this time!

  2. Actually not everybody lives. Kalik is eaten by a Drashig and one of the Functionaries is killed (by Kalik) when grunting a speech.

  3. This one is great, just a little bit below superb. This is another one where I read the novelization before seeing the actual story, but this one doesn't disappoint!

    There's so much to love here! Robert Holmes makes us actually care about these folks on Inter Minor, even though we know almost nothing about them (something the new series fails at a lot). The Drashigs feel like an actual threat even with their name being an anagram of dish rags. The scene on the Bernice was solid (and Ian Marter before Harry!). Vorg and Shirna are great and so much fun. The Doctor's outrage at the scope. Great stuff here all around!


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