The Androids Of Tara
Working Titles: The Androids Of Zenda, The Androids Of Zend, The Prisoners Of Zend, The Seeds Of Time.
Starring: Tom Baker (The Fourth Doctor), John Leeson (Voice of K-9), Mary Tamm (The First Romana, Princess Strella).
While the Doctor has a rest, Romana finds the fourth segment of the Key to Time on Tara, only to be kidnapped by the villainous Count Grendel. It transpires that Romana is an exact double of Tara's Princess Strella. Grendel has aspirations to the Taran throne, and has kidnapped Strella in an attempt to force her to marry him; now he believes he can make Romana pose as Strella and accomplish the deception that way. But the Doctor allies himself with Reynart, Strella's true love, in a desperate attempt to stop the throne from falling into Grendel's cruel grasp.
By the end of February 1978, the only stories left to be decided for Season Sixteen were the fourth and fifth slots. The writer originally approached to pen Serial 5D was Ted Lewis, who had scripted episodes of Z Cars and the feature film Get Carter. Script editor Anthony Read had suggested Lewis write a Doctor Who story in which the Doctor discovers the truth about a figure whom history has painted in a good light. However, the initial drafts needed a variety of changes, and Lewis was going through a variety of personal problems at the time, include separation from his wife and a bout of alcoholism. Read and producer Graham Williams ultimately decided to abandon Lewis' story altogether.
Read asked his predecessor, Robert Holmes, to hurriedly prepare a replacement story. Holmes was already familiar with Season Sixteen's Key To Time arc, having written The Ribos Operation some months earlier. He began work on Moon Of Death, commissioned on May 26th. On the same day, Read commissioned The Androids Of Zenda from David Fisher, who had just completed The Stones Of Blood, the year's third serial. Fisher's adventure was an obvious parody of the 1894 Anthony Hope novel The Prisoner Of Zenda. The director assigned to Serial 5D was Michael Hayes, a BBC veteran whose work included Z Cars and A For Andromeda. Hayes quickly became dismayed by Holmes' script, as he felt that some of its technical demands would prove impossible to achieve. Williams decided to switch the fourth and fifth stories around, meaning that The Androids Of Zenda would be transmitted fourth and Moon Of Death would be the season's penultimate serial. As a result, this would mark the third time an author had written consecutive stories within a Doctor Who season, following Ian Stewart Black in Season Three and Chris Boucher in Season Fourteen.
Fisher's scripts appear to have gone by a number of different titles over the course of their development, including The Androids Of Zend, The Prisoners (or Prisoner) Of Zenda, and The Seeds Of Time. The latter came about as part of a short-lived idea to further unify the Season Sixteen stories by giving them all names of the form The (Something) Of Time. By the time the serial entered production, its title had become The Androids Of Tara. Fisher's scripts are a clear lift from the Hope novel, following basically the same plotline and including many analogous characters: Prince Reynart for Prince Rudolf, Madame Lamia for Antoinette de Maubin, Zadek for Sapt, Farrah for Fritz von Tarlenheim, and Strella for Flavia. The novel's two chief villains, Duke Michael and Rupert of Hentzau are combined into the person of Count Grendel, while the Doctor and the android "George" essentially share the role of the book's hero, Rudolf Rassendyll.
Location filming was originally to have taken place in early July, with Leeds Castle doubling for Castle Gracht. This proved impossible to book, however, because a high-security Middle East peace conference was taking place there at the time. As a result, filming was pushed back to the end of the month, running from July 24th to 28th. These days were plagued by several mishaps, especially concerning recording around the moat. First, on the 24th, Tom Baker inadvertently tossed the antique fishing rod he was using into the water. Stunt arranger Terry Walsh had to dive in and rescue it. Later, on the 28th, the sound recordist himself took a tumble into the moat. The Androids Of Tara was allocated four studio days in blocks of two. Both ran over a Monday and Tuesday, the first session starting on August 14th and the second a fortnight later on the 28th. Unusually, the credits for the serial were recorded out of the regular order, with the episode number appearing prior to the author's name.