Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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City of Death: Part One 

As time slips a groove, the Doctor and Romana relive twenty-four seconds while on holiday in Paris. The second time it occurs the Doctor spots a woman using advanced, alien technology at ... See full summary »



(by) (as David Agnew), (by) (as David Agnew) | 1 more credit »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Duggan / Jagaroth Voice
David Graham ...
Kevin Flood ...
Pamela Stirling ...
Louvre Guide


As time slips a groove, the Doctor and Romana relive twenty-four seconds while on holiday in Paris. The second time it occurs the Doctor spots a woman using advanced, alien technology at the Louvre to study the security system guarding the Mona Lisa, but it's the Doctor who falls under suspicion of being a clever and masterful international art forger. Written by statmanjeff

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Release Date:

29 September 1979 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Working titles for this story included The Gamble With Time, The Time of the Sephiroth and Curse of the Sephiroth. See more »


Count: That Gainsborough didn't fetch enough. I think we'll have to sell one of the bibles.
Hermann: Sir?
Count: Yes. The Gutenberg.
Hermann: May I suggest we tread more carefully, sir? It would not be in our best interest to draw too much attention to ourselves. Another rash of priceless treasures on the market...
Count: Yes, I know, Herman, I know. Just sell it discreetly.
Hermann: Discreetly, sir? Sell a Gutenberg Bible discreetly?
Count: Well, as discreetly as possible. Just do it, will you?
Hermann: Yes, sir.
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Featured in Doctor Who Confidential: Desert Storm (2009) See more »

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The Last of the Jagaroth
1 May 2015 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

It is a general rule of science fiction, at least of the cinema or broadcast variety, that alien invasions always take place in the country that produced the film or programme in question. Thus Godzilla, being a Japanese creation, is always threatening Tokyo, whereas the aliens featured in Hollywood blockbusters like "Independence Day" or "The War of the Worlds" always start their invasion of Planet Earth with an attack on New York, Washington or Los Angeles. (In H G Wells's original "War of the Worlds" the first target of the Martian invasion was Woking, the Surrey commuter town where he was living when he wrote the book. For obvious reasons, no Hollywood producer has ever run with this idea).

Similarly, the monsters in "Dr Who", be they Daleks, Cybermen, Silurians or whatever, rarely show any interest in any part of the world other than Britain. "City of Death", however, is an exception in that it deals with an alien invasion of Paris. The BBC had evidently increased the series' budget enough to allow for location shooting abroad, but picked the wrong week for their jaunt because the French capital is grey and rain-shrouded, making it look curiously like Manchester. You can tell it's Paris, however, because although everyone speaks English one or two of them make an attempt at a French accent.

The alien invasion is unusual for another reason in that it is carried out by a single alien. He cannot call for reinforcements because he is the Last of the Jagaroth, the sole survivor of a cruel, aggressive race otherwise wiped out in a war some 400 million years ago. One Jagaroth- the word can be either singular or plural- is quite enough to cause trouble, however. This particular individual has successfully disguised himself as a human and is living the good life of a French aristocrat in an elegant Parisian townhouse, without anyone, including his beautiful young wife, suspecting that he may not be what he seems. He has concocted a plan to steal the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, but the Doctor has discovered that he may have other, even more sinister plans involving time travel. (It is always a bad sign when anyone, other than the Time Lords themselves, starts monkeying with time). This is the only series in which the Jagaroth appear, possibly because their appearance, which is roughly that of a badly-knitted sock-puppet with no facial features other than a single eye, was more ridiculous than menacing. Their lack of a mouth, however, does not appear to prevent them from speaking- indeed, this one has rather a lot to say for himself.

It was a sad day for "Doctor Who" when the lovely Mary Tamm left the series after only one season, apparently because she did not like the way her character was being developed by the scriptwriters. The producers, however, felt that the character of Romana was too good to waste, and promptly brought in another actress to play her. As Romana is a Time Lady they could explain away the change in her appearance by her ability to regenerate herself in the same way as the Doctor, but I never liked Lalla Ward as much as Mary. With her too-perfect features and her smooth, flawless skin she always put me in mind of a porcelain doll and her personality seemed to be that of a rather prissy public schoolgirl, an impression reinforced here by a costume which bore a distinct, and doubtless deliberate, resemblance to a school uniform. Romana is supposed to have a brain the size of a small planet, but she can be surprisingly naïve, something shown here when she is easily tricked into assisting the Jagaroth with his nefarious schemes.

The serial was supposedly written by "David Agnew", but no individual of this name ever existed. It was a pseudonym for a writing team which included Douglas Adams, best known for his sci-fi spoof "The Hitch- Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Something of Adams' influence can clearly be detected in "City of Death", as it is one of the more comical of the Fourth Doctor's adventures. Apart from the weird appearance of the Jagaroth, the lack of seriousness is shown in the rather farcical scenes when the Doctor travels back in time to Renaissance Italy and in some of the secondary characters such as the pugnacious, bone-headed private detective Duggan and the wimpish mad scientist Kerensky. (The Doctor's purpose in going back to the Florence of 1505 is to meet his old mate Leonardo da Vinci, but finds he has missed him. There seemed to be a deliberate policy during the Pertwee/ Tom Baker/Davidson era of not showing real historical individuals, even in scenes set in the past).

The serial starts off slowly, but picks up and becomes more entertaining in later episodes. Overall, however, I felt that the balance between humour and tension was upset too much in favour of the former.

A goof. We are told that there was no life on Earth until about 400 million years ago. In fact, life on Earth began long before that. By 400 million BC, during the Devonian period, quite advanced life-forms, including vertebrates, had already evolved.

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