The Daleks’ Master Plan is the third serial of the third season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which originally aired in twelve weekly installments from November 13, 1965, to January 29, 1966. But did you know that the 5th and 10th episode of the series has been missing for quite some time?
Episodes 5 and 10 of the 1960s Doctor Who story The Daleks’ Master Plan were long thought to be lost until they were discovered in the basement of a Mormon church in Wandsworth. Nobody has found out how they got there.
The Original Master Plan
Terry Nation, the creator of the Daleks, was tasked with writing his fourth story, which pitted the evil pepperpots against the Doctor and his companions. The nation was commissioned to write a one-off episode, Mission to the Unknown, while working on his third Dalek story, The Chase. This would be a prelude to his next commission, The Daleks’ Master Plan, a six-part Dalek story.
This story was doubled in length due to discussions on the 7th Floor of BBC TV Centre. Huw Wheldon, a senior Corporation official, relayed feedback from his mother-in-law, who requested more Daleks. Producer John Wiles was so enraged by this decision that he threatened to resign.
Donald Tosh, the script editor, is thought to have talked him out of his ultimatum. Recognizing that Nation would require assistance writing six additional episodes on top of the seven already commissioned, Verity Lambert proposed Dennis Spooner.
The four men involved met to discuss how to expand on the original story. As a result of that meeting, another chase across space and time was considered the best strategy to extend the story. (Source: Blogtor Who)
The Master Plan
Terry Nation’s original six-part story took place in the year 4000. The nation created a tight and gritty thriller full of espionage and corruption, no doubt influenced by the successful James Bond film Goldfinger.
James Bond’s replacement is Brett Vyon. In Terry Nation’s drafts, the Sara Kingdom is referred to as Agent 5-5-0. The Space Security Service is a government agency similar to MI5. There are numerous parallels. The fourth episode is titled ‘The Traitors,’ which hints at the themes involved.
However, much of the atmosphere was lost when the story’s length doubled. Elements of it can still be found in the first few episodes before the momentum is lost. For example, the return of The Meddling Monk is a clear indication of the shift to a more comedic tone.
Gavin Rymill recently explained Nation’s original outline on the Doctor Who: The Missing Episodes podcast. As mentioned in that podcast episode, adding a time travel element significantly dilutes the drama.
Hopefully, animation costs will decrease in the future. These projects take a long time, so as technology advances, the prospect of animating all twelve episodes of The Daleks’ Master Plan should become less daunting. Then we can laugh at The Feast of Steven and other episodes.
(Source: Blogtor Who)
Image from BBC