Doctor Who: Season 14, Episode 11

The Deadly Assassin: Part Three (13 Nov. 1976)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi
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The Doctor battles the assassin inside the matrix dreamscape, while the Master tries to bring about his death in the real world.



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Title: The Deadly Assassin: Part Three (13 Nov 1976)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Bernard Horsfall ...
George Pravda ...
Erik Chitty ...
Peter Pratt ...
Peter Mayock ...


The Doctor battles the assassin inside the matrix dreamscape, while the Master tries to bring about his death in the real world.

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Release Date:

13 November 1976 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The freeze-frame ending to this episode is one of the most controversial scenes in the history of the series. It was the subject of a complaint by Mary Whitehouse following its transmission and she received an apology from the Director-General of the BBC, Charles Curran, who acknowledged that the violence of the scene was too strong. The master tape was edited following her complaint to remove the final seconds. However, the edited footage survives due to a U-matic recording made by BBC Enterprises and a domestic recording made by fan Ian Levine. This footage was used to restore the episode's original ending for the serial's DVD release in 2009. See more »


When the hunter is looking at his map, his bandoleer of cartridges is shown in close-up. The shells clearly have no primers, meaning that (in real life, though perhaps not in the virtual reality the scenario takes place in) the shells would be inert and therefore useless. See more »


The Assassin: I am the creator here, Doctor. This is my world. There is no escape for you.
See more »


Featured in The Culture Show: Me, You and Doctor Who (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Strange & sometimes surreal but enjoyable third episode.

Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin: Part Three starts as the Doctor (Tom Baker) remains trapped inside the virtual reality of the Matrix computer, Castellan Spandrell (George Pravda) & Co-Ordinator Engin (Erik Chitty) look on helplessly back on Gallifrey. Inside the Matrix the Doctor has to fight for his life as a mysterious man with black netting across his face (how does he see anything?) tries to kill him at every turn, the Doctor must use all his cunning to outwit his hunter...

Episode 11 from season 14 this Doctor Who adventure originally aired here in the UK during November 1976, directed by David Maloney The Deadly Assassin has been a cracking story so far & this is a very unique Doctor Who episode. The script by Robert Holmes has taken an almost totally different direction in Part Three compared to the previous two & in fact apart from a few scenes set back on Gallifrey this episode could have belonged to a completely different Doctor Who story, instead of the Doctor running around Gallifrey sniffing out assassins & cover ups he is trapped inside the imaginary reality of the Matrix pursed by his enemy dressed in hunter's gear & carrying a rifle. The Matrix here is used more more effectively than when it was extensively used again in The Trial of Time Lord (1986) with Colin Baker during season twenty three. Part Three feels like a The Most Dangerous Game (1932) type film where someone indulges into a little hunting, only the prey is of the human variety who end up turning the tables on the hunters. This sudden shift in tone, themes, location & ideas doesn't hurt The Deadly Assassin at all & it feels perfectly natural & correct at this point in the story as opposed to unnecessary & padded. The has moved along at a great pace, it has been varied, well written & even has a bit of political intrigue & mystery.

Gone are the plastic crocodiles & imaginary trains to be replaced with a hunter & hunted scenario through what looks like a jungle, in actuality Betchworth Quarry in Surrey & the gardens of the Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Reigate again in Surrey were used. The location work is very impressive & features some lush looking locations, a horse wearing a gas mask, a plastic crocodile, a World War II bi-plane & a Japanese Samurai warrior. Ratings for The Deadly Assassin were excellent with each episode having 10 million plus viewing figures & Part Three was the most watched with an impressive 13 million. Unusually the Doctor doesn't wear his trademark coat & scarf that much during The Deadly Assassin. Mary Whitehouse was an old biddy who had an agenda against any sort of sex & violence on telly, it seemed quite a lot of people supported her campaign as well. Whitehouse really laid into The Deadly Assassin: Part Three with it's running blood, depictions of injuries, it's violent hunter & hunted type story & in particular the cliffhanger ending where the Doctors head his held under water. The BBC issued an apology & actually cut the offending few seconds out of the master videotape, luckily it had already been sold overseas in it's uncut form so the footage still exists. Over the next few years Doctor Who would considerably be toned down of it's horror content & go for a more light hearted approach & sometimes veer into straight comedy.

The Deadly Assassin: Part Three is a fine episode in a fine story, there are aspects of The Deadly Assassin that I don't like but there are aspects of it that I do & for me the good outweighs the bad. A must for fans of the series.

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