28 December 1974
Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Patricia Maynard (Miss Winters), Michael Kilgarriff (Robot), Edward Burnham (Professor Kettlewell), Alec Linstead (Jellicoe), Timothy Craven (Short) .
|Written by||Terrence Dicks|
|Directed by||Christopher Barry|
|Produced by||Barry Letts|
Mortally weakened by the Spider Queen on Metebelis III, the Doctor is forced to regenerate. His recuperation is cut short as UNIT investigates a spate of robberies involving components for a top-secret disintegrator gun. The culprit is quickly identified as a highly sophisticated robot built by Professor Kettlewell, being ordered to act against its Prime Directive.
Just how is the robot being used to carry out the sinister agenda of the Scientific Reform Society? Can the Doctor rescue Sarah from the robot’s clutches and avert a nuclear war?.
- This story had the working title The Giant Robot.
- This is the last time that the Third Doctor’s lab is seen.
- This was the first Doctor Who serial to have location as well as studio material shot on videotape, as opposed to the more usual BBC television drama practice of the time of shooting studio interiors on videotape and location exteriors on film. This was due to the large number of video effects involving the eponymous robot required in exterior scenes, which were easier and more convincing to marry to videotape than to film. The next serial to be produced completely on videotape was The Sontaran Experiment later that season. Beginning with The Trial of a Time Lord in 1986, videotaping exteriors became standard practice for the remainder of the 1963-89 series’ run. The revived (2005-) series shoots most scenes on videotape, which is later processed to look like film (though some deleted scenes and other footage included on DVD releases are presented in their original videotape format).
As a consequence of the above point, this was the first colour serial to be recorded entirely on videotape. (The Fourth Doctor Handbook)
- The seeming disappearance of the robot’s legs when it grows was due largely to a change in the way in which color separation overlay was achieved. Generally, Barry Letts had ordered blue as the background to all CSO shots during the Pertwee era. However, as with the previous story, Planet of the Spiders, yellow was used. While this switch had produced generally desirable results for the shots of the Whomobile in flight in Planet of the Spiders, it didn’t work so well in this story, due to the fact that the reflection of the studio lights on the silver of the robot’s body registered as yellow to the camera. When the growing robot was keyed into the shot with Sarah, the CSO process removed all yellow from the shot, which took away not just the yellow background, but also those parts of the robot’s body which the camera saw as yellow.
- Benton is promoted to Warrant Officer. This is not reflected in the closing credits, which continue to give his rank as Sergeant.
- This story features the debut of another new opening and closing title sequence, again designed by Bernard Lodge and realised using the “slit scan” process, but in this instance featuring Tom Baker rather than Jon Pertwee and, for the first time, the TARDIS‘s police box exterior.
- The Radio Times programme listing for part one was accompanied by black and white publicity stills of the Third and Fourth Doctors which depicted a four-stage ‘regeneration’ sequence via trick photography, with the accompanying caption “Who’s Who? The Time Lords never die, they just sort of transmute… and become…? Tom Baker takes over as Dr. Who this evening in Robot: 5.35″.
- Terrance Dicks later said that two major influences for this story were King Kong and Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. Indeed, the scenes in which Sarah Jane is carried by the robot greatly resemble scenes from King Kong.
- This is the first story which makes note of the Brigadier’s full name: Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Prior to this story, his middle name had never been revealed.
Parts of this story were recorded at the same time as parts of Planet of the Spiders.
- The TARDIS interior is not seen throughout this serial, nor indeed at any point until Planet of Evil, the first post-Harry Sullivan story.
- Director Christopher Barry considered Colin Baker for the role of Arnold Jellicoe. (The Fourth Doctor Handbook)
- Terrance Dicks’s novelisation Doctor Who and the Face of Evil suggests that the Doctor’s first unrecorded visit to the planet of the Sevateem took place early during this story; he left in the TARDIS one night, performed his initial repair work on the Mordee expedition’s spaceship computer and then returned to UNIT H.Q. before anyone noticed he had been gone. This was not derived from any information given in the televised version of The Face of Evil.