Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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The Talons of Weng-Chiang: Part One 

The Doctor and Leela land in Victorian London, and find themselves in the middle of missing girls, mutilated bodies, and vicious Chinese gangs. The Palace theater, presenting hypnotist Li H'sen Chang seems to be at the center of it all.




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Episode complete credited cast:
John Bennett ...
Chris Gannon ...
Trevor Baxter ...
David McKail ...
Conrad Asquith ...
Alan Butler ...
Patsy Smart ...
Tony Then ...
John Wu ...


In Victorian London, the Doctor and Leela are on their way to a performance by Chinese magician Li H'Sen Chiang when they come across a gang carrying away a body. At the police station, they learn that young girls have been going missing. They also meet the magician who has come to free one of his men. The man bears a tattoo of the a black scorpion, one of the greatest criminal organizations of all time. When the Doctor finds a tuft of rat hair on the dead man, he and Leela explore the sewers. At the theater, the doorman Casey and the manager Jago see what is going on in the cellar. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

26 February 1977 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This serial began as a story idea commissioned from Robert Banks Stewart called "The Foe from the Future", but he was unable to continue with it due to other commitments. See more »


Though they tried to cover them up with white tape, the mortuary where the Doctor meets the Professor has a couple of power-points on the white tiled wall. See more »


The Doctor: [recognizing] Got it! Li H'sen Chang!
Li H'sen Chang: What?
The Doctor: The master of magic and mesmerism. Show us a trick.
[a nearby man dies, suddenly and violently]
The Doctor: [admiringly] Very good!
See more »


Referenced in Sherlock: The Empty Hearse (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

Sax Rohmer meets Dr Who
7 August 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Review of the Complete Story:

THE TALONS OF WENG CHIANG is a well-remembered serial from the Tom Baker era of DR WHO, and for good reason: in the long history of the show, this one is completely unique. It's a wonderfully Gothic pulp adventure that feels like something Sax Rohmer would have scripted for the show: the Doctor and Leela are up against the most sinister kind of Yellow Peril in the dimly-lit streets of East End London...

What's extraordinary about this story is how well they manage to evoke Victorian London on what would have been a very low budget. The streets are wonderfully atmospheric and the settings range from dank sewers to cobwebby alleyways and run-down music halls. You can almost see Jack the Ripper creeping around in the background!

Baker adopts a Sherlock Holmes-style personality in this one and even wears a deerstalker to hammer home the similarities. The story has lots of fantastic elements and if the special effects aren't up to scratch, then that's part of the charm. John Bennett is a delight, yellowed-up as the sinister Chang, but it's the creepy homunculus (played by dwarf actor Deep Roy) who everybody remembers as one of the most sinister life-size dolls put on film or TV. Watch out for a delightfully hammy Christopher Benjamin as the proprietor who becomes drawn into the mystery. My only real complaint is that the final identity of the masked villain turns out to be so ordinary and familiar from other DR WHO stories - something more uniquely horrific would have been more appropriate, I feel...

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