The Curse of Peladon

061 The Curse of Peladon
Doctor Who serial

The Doctor examines the statue of Aggedor, the legendary Royal Beast of Peladon
Directed by Lennie Mayne
Written by Brian Hayles
Script editor Terrance Dicks
Produced by Barry Letts
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code MMM
Series Season 9
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 29 January19 February 1972
← Preceded by Followed by →
Day of the Daleks The Sea Devils

The Curse of Peladon is the second serial of the ninth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 29 January to 19 February 1972. It is the first of two serials to be set on the planet Peladon, in which Alpha Centauri appears and the Ice Warriors.


The planet Peladon, led by its young King, is on the verge of joining the Galactic Federation, with the delegates ready to make the final decision. High Priest Hepesh is opposed to the change, warning that the curse of Aggedor the Royal Beast of Peladon will visit doom upon them all.

The TARDIS materialises on the edge of a cliff below the castle. The Doctor and Jo Grant barely leave the ship before it tumbles over the edge of the cliff; they climb to the castle to get help.

King Peladon asks for Hepesh's support to join the Federation, but Hepesh says he will not trust the aliens. The Doctor and Jo are discovered by the palace guards, who take them to the throne room, where the delegates are gathered: Alpha Centauri, Arcturus, the Ice Lord Izlyr and the Ice Warrior Ssorg. The Doctor is mistaken for the delegate from Earth. He introduces Jo as the "Princess Josephine of TARDIS", a neutral royal observer from Earth.

Several suspicious accidents occur to the delegates, which Jo links to the Ice Warriors. Fleeing the beast Aggedor, which he discovers in the tunnels under the palace, the Doctor finds his way into the room which holds the shrine of Aggedor, where he is discovered by Hepesh and Grun, the King's Champion. Hepesh accuses the Doctor of sacrilege for entering the shrine. He is sentenced to trial by combat, a duel to the death with the King's Champion.

In the Doctor's cell, Hepesh tells the Doctor that his "shuttle" has been recovered and offers him an escape route. In the tunnels, the Doctor encounters the beast again, and uses hypnosis to calm it.

The Doctor tries to tell the King about the beast, but Hepesh orders that the Doctor be taken away to face Grun in combat. The Doctor is victorious, and spares Grun's life. Arcturus tries to kill the Doctor but is shot by Ssorg. The others now realise that Hepesh has been framing the Ice Warriors, and has trained a rare beast to maintain superstition. He made an agreement with Arcturus for Peladon's mineral deposits in exchange for his help. Eventually, the delegates vote unanimously for intervention. However, they are unable to communicate this vote to their ships, as their communicators in their rooms have been smashed.

Hepesh's forces have taken the throne room, and hold the king hostage. Hepesh tells the king that he will live, as long as he goes back to the old ways. The Doctor arrives with Aggedor, who kills Hepesh before the Doctor manages to call it off.

The Doctor realises that the Time Lords must have steered the TARDIS here, so the ship is still not within his control. Peladon asks Jo to stay, but she protests she is not even a real princess. This does not matter to him. As the Doctor and Jo are going to the coronation they see the real delegate from Earth, who has just arrived. They rush back to the TARDIS to avoid explaining themselves.


In The Monster of Peladon, the Doctor returns to Peladon with his new companion Sarah Jane Smith, 50 years after the events of Curse. The Doctor has also returned to Peladon in spin-off media. In the Fifth Doctor audio The Bride of Peladon, the Doctor's companion Erimem marries the new king of Peladon. In the Seventh Doctor novel Legacy, the Seventh Doctor manipulates events to convince Peladon to temporarily withdraw from the Galactic Federation to keep it safe during an upcoming war with the Daleks. The Third Doctor Companion Chronicles story The Prisoner of Peladon is told by King Peladon, with David Troughton reprising his role for the first time.

The Doctor sings a Venusian lullaby to Aggedor (the words first used in The Dæmons) to the tune of the Christmas carol, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen";[1] a 1994 Virgin Missing Adventures novel by Paul Leonard featuring the First Doctor was titled Venusian Lullaby. Iris Wildthyme also uses the Venusian Lullaby to little effect in The Claws of Santa.


The story was broadcast during the 1972 UK Miner's Strike, which led to many parts of the UK undergoing scheduled power cuts. This may account for the drop in viewers for the last two episodes. According to the DVD notes for The Peladon Tales this industrial action partly inspired the sequel The Monster of Peladon.

During production it was noted that Alpha Centauri had a somewhat phallic appearance. So director Lennie Mayne insisted on the addition of a yellow cape to the costume in an attempt to rectify this.[2]

Working titles for this story included The Curse and Curse of the Peladons. The original 625-line master videotapes of the serial were wiped around 1975. In the late 1970s, 525-line NTSC copies were returned to the BBC from Canada. The tape of Episode Three was in a very poor condition and a salvage transfer to 625-line was made in 1982 for a repeat of the story; the NTSC tape was then reported junked. As a result, it was feared that it might not have been possible to make a new Reverse Standards Conversion (RSC) of the episode. However, the tape of Episode Three had not been lost but had instead been given to Ian Levine; Levine then lent the tape to the restoration team. After heat treatment, the tape was used to create a new RSC 625-line videotape digital copy.[3]

Cast notes

David Troughton is the son of Second Doctor actor Patrick Troughton.[4] He had previously appeared in Doctor Who as Moor in The War Games (1969), and he would appear in the revived series episode entitled "Midnight" (2008). Geoffrey Toone previously appeared as Temmosus in the film Dr. Who and the Daleks.


The story can be seen as a "political satire" about the real-world issue whether Britain should join the European Economic Community, with the alien delegates representing foreigners, King Peladon representing a younger generation of hope in agreement with joining the Federation, and Hepesh, who wants to preserve the status quo, representing the decision to not join.[4] An allegory can also be drawn to the conflict of religion and science.[5]

Broadcast and reception

Serial details by episode
EpisodeBroadcast dateRun timeViewers
(in millions)
"Episode One" 29 January 1972 (1972-01-29) 24:32 10.3 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Two" 5 February 1972 (1972-02-05) 24:33 11.0 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Three" 12 February 1972 (1972-02-12) 24:21 7.8 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Four" 19 February 1972 (1972-02-19) 24:16 8.4 PAL colour conversion

Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping, in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), described The Curse of Peladon as "dull, but worthy".[9] In The Television Companion (1998), David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker praised the inventiveness and individuality of the aliens, as well as the change of the Ice Warriors from evil to good. They concluded that it was "a hugely enjoyable story, and one of the real gems of the third Doctor's era".[10] In 2009, Mark Braxton of Radio Times called the story an "exciting, elegant four-parter". He praised Jo and the various aliens, though he felt Aggredor was less successful and would have been better if he was bigger.[1] DVD Talk's John Sinnott gave the serial four and a half out of five stars, writing that it "has everything that a fan could want: some interesting aliens, old adversaries, a solid mystery, a good amount of action, and a healthy dollop of humor". He praised the character of Hepesh and effort gone into making the aliens unique, but felt that the King was the weakest aspect as he was not a good leader, which made the romance with Jo not as believable.[5] The A.V. Club reviewer Christopher Bahn stated that the serial was a success in returning to an "old-fashioned" format, but the murder-mystery genre was not fully realised, with the Doctor not figuring it out and Hepesh taking up most of the fourth episode.[4]

This story was repeated on BBC One (excluding BBC Wales) as two 50min compilation episodes on 12 and 19 July 1982 as part of "Doctor Who and the Monsters",[11] [12] achieving viewing figures of 5.2 and 4.2 million respectively.[13]

Commercial releases

In print

Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon
Author Brian Hayles
Cover artist Chris Achilleos
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
January 1975
ISBN 0-426-10452-8

A novelisation of this serial, written by Brian Hayles, was published by Target Books in January 1975. In 1995 the novel was also issued by BBC Audio as an audio book, read by Jon Pertwee, an unabridged reading of Brian Hayles novel was released in 2013 on CD by AudioGo, this time read by David Troughton who played King Peladon in the TV serial.

Home Media

The Curse of Peladon was released on VHS in August 1993 for the series' 30th Anniversary. The story's original soundtrack was released in the UK in November 2007 and linking narration was provided by Katy Manning. The CD also featured a bonus interview with the actress. The serial was released on DVD on 18 January 2010 in a boxset entitled 'Peladon Tales', along with The Monster of Peladon.


  1. 1 2 Braxton, Mark (7 December 2009). "Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon". Radio Times. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  2. "The Peladon Saga - Part Two" - DVD Extra for the Peladon Tales boxset
  3. DVD releases Peladon Tales
  4. 1 2 3 Bahn, Christopher (1 April 2012). "The Curse of Peladon". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  5. 1 2 Sinnott, John (18 May 2010). "Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon". DVD Talk. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  6. Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "The Curse of Peladon". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-05-18. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  7. "The Curse of Peladon". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  8. Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Curse of Peladon". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  9. Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Curse of Peladon". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5.
  10. Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7.
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