Serial 4K:
The Brain Of Morbius


Starring: Tom Baker (The Fou
rth Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith). 

Plot
Th
e Time Lords divert the Doctor and Sarah to Karn, home of the Sisterhood of the Flame, whose sacred fire -- which provides an elixir granting them eternal life and is used by the Time Lords to aid in regenerative crises -- is slowly dying. The Sisterhood believes the Doctor has come to steal the vestiges of the elixir and has him captured. Also on Karn, meanwhile, is the mad Doctor Solon, who has covertly taken possession of the brain of Morbius, an evil Time Lord thought to have been executed. Solon is trying to build a new body for Morbius, and is lacking only a suitable head -- the head of a Time Lord.

Production
The Brain Of Morbius was originally inspired
when producer Philip Hinchcliffe decided he wanted to do a story which realistically portrayed the relationship between man and robot, something which had never been attempted in Doctor Who. Hinchcliffe passed this notion along to script editor Robert Holmes, who in turn contacted his predecessor, Terrance Dicks. Dicks had most recently written Robot (which treated the subject rather more comically than Hinchcliffe intended) and in late 1974 had had another idea, The Haunting, rejected. Holmes suggested Dicks also draw upon the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, specifically the man-makes-monster theme, in developing what came to be called The Brain Of Morbius. Dicks added further concepts from his Doctor Who stage play, The Seven Keys To Doomsday.

Dicks' story was about galactic
super-criminal Morbius, who crashlands on planet Karn while fleeing his enemies. Morbius survives but his body is all but decimated. His robotic manservant sets about cobbling Morbius together a new body out of the survivors of other crashes on Karn, ignorant of the fact that not all living creatures are biologically identical. Dicks turned in his scripts just prior to going on holiday and could not be contacted. In his absence, Hinchcliffe determined that a robot was beyond the budget of the programme, and asked Holmes to rewrite The Brain Of Morbius. Because the entire story was constructed around the robot, Holmes was forced to fundamentally alter the serial, by replacing the robot with the mad scientist Solon and his assistant Condo. Upon returning from vacation, Dicks was appalled by the modifications (although he would later grow to acknowledge the quality of the revised version). Feeling it had now deviated too much from his original premise, and that it was as much Holmes' work as his own, Dicks elected to have his name removed from the finished product. Consequently, the adventure was credited to "Robin Bland" -- inspired by Dicks' request that Holmes devise "a bland pseudonym".

Serial 4K wa
s unusual in that it was made without any filming whatsoever, be it on location or at Ealing. The director was Christopher Barry, whose last Doctor Who work had also been on Robot. Also amongst the crew was designer Barry Newbery. Newbery had worked on Doctor Who as far back as the very first serial, 100,000 BC, but not since The Silurians in 1970. Production on The Brain Of Morbius began on October 6th, 1975. This day saw the unplanned return of an old Doctor Who monster in the form of one of the Mutts from Season Nine's The Mutants. The serial's budget was such that an original costume could not be created for such a small role (referred to in the script only as a creature named Kriz), and so the Mutt costume was resurrected from storage.

One addition Holmes made to Dicks' script
s was the inclusion of the "mind battle" between the Doctor and Morbius, a scene which continues to inspire controversy amongst fans to this day. In the scene in question, images of the Time Lords' past incarnations flash up on the screen as they duel. This includes a painted rendition of one of the clay busts of Morbius seen elsewhere in the episode, a shot of the Fourth Doctor taken from another camera feed, and still photographs of the Morbius monster, the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton), the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and eight other individuals in various period costumes. It was the intent of Hinchcliffe and Holmes that these eight faces represent previously-unseen incarnations of the Doctor before Hartnell's, although this would be seemingly contradicted in other stories. Fans have used the fact that Morbius loses the battle as evidence that the faces are actually his past incarnations; this, however, neglects that Morbius seems to be winning the battle as the faces appear.

Hi
nchcliffe had originally hoped to secure celebrities to play these "past Doctors", but this did not pan out. In the event, the photographs were of members of the crew for The Brain Of Morbius and The Seeds Of Doom, the subsequent serial which was in preproduction at the time. These included Hinchcliffe, Holmes, Barry, Seeds director Douglas Camfield, production manager George Gallacio, Seeds writer Robert Banks Stewart, and production assistants Chris Baker and Graeme Harper. However, this decision incurred the wrath of Equity, the actors' union, because of the use of non-Equity members for the scene. A special payment was made to Equity by the BBC as restitution.