Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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The Deadly Assassin: Part One 

A mysterious evil is at work on Gallifrey. The President of the Time Lords has been assassinated and the Doctor caught red-handed. An inexorable master plan has been set in motion. There can be no escape


David Maloney


Robert Holmes (by)

On Disc

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Episode complete credited cast:
Tom Baker ... Doctor Who
Llewellyn Rees Llewellyn Rees ... The President
Bernard Horsfall ... Chancellor Goth
George Pravda ... Castellan Spandrell
Angus MacKay Angus MacKay ... Cardinal Borusa
Peter Pratt Peter Pratt ... The Master
Hugh Walters Hugh Walters ... Commentator Runcible
Erik Chitty ... Co-Ordinator Engin
Derek Seaton Derek Seaton ... Commander Hilred
Maurice Quick Maurice Quick ... Gold Usher
John Dawson John Dawson ... Time Lord
Michael Bilton Michael Bilton ... Time Lord


The President of the High Council of the Time Lords is assassinated, and the Doctor, newly returned to Gallifrey, is the prime suspect. But the Doctor knows someone is framing him, and must rely on the help of the reluctant Castellan Kelner to unveil a traitor in the High Council. Ultimately, the trail leads to the dying, vengeful Master, who wishes to harness the powers of Rassilon's greatest discovery, the mythical Eye of Harmony. But to do so would mean the destruction of Gallifrey, and to prevent this, the Doctor must risk his life in the surreal landscape of the Matrix Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

30 October 1976 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Voted by fans as the seventh greatest Doctor Who (1963) serial in Outpost Gallifrey's poll in 2003 to celebrate 40 years of the series. See more »


[It is Presidential Resignation Day on Gallifrey. The outgoing Lord President is due to name his successor]
Commentator Runcible: [to camera, in the style of a news reporter] It is certainly no secret that a very senior member of the Prydonian Chapter, and the present number two in the Time Lord Council, Chancellor Goth, is the widely fancied candidate.
The Doctor: [watching on a monitor in the TARDIS] Oh, get off!
[he changes the channel]
See more »


Featured in The Gallifreyan Candidate (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Good Four Episodes That Echo Today
30 October 2013 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

Review Of All Four Episode Alone in the Tardis the Doctor has a strange dream involving the president of Gallifrey being murdered . Rushing back to his long lamented home world he finds himself trying to stop a plot involving an old enemy to assassinate the Time Lord president

Yet another story that is constantly praised as an all time classic from the original show The Deadly Assassin should be dissected via a neutral critical eye . It' certainly a very radical story in that reintroduces an old foe in the shape of The Master , but no longer played by icy charm by the late Roger Delgado who died in 1973 but by Geoffry Beevers unrecognisable in heavy make up as a mutilated charred skeletal figure . It's the only story of the 1963-89 era in which the entire story has no companion for the Doctor . It's also the story that set the rather dubious rule that a Time Lord only has 13 incarnations and with hindsight one wonders if Robert Holmes might have painted future writers in to too much of tight corner with this folklore . Let's hope Moffat doesn't spend too much time trying to resolve the problem with Peter Capaldi's doctor

It's interesting how ill received the fledgling DOCTOR WHO fandom took to this story on its initial broadcast and it's only revisionary opinion over the years that turned it in to the classic it has become . One can easily see the differences wrought on the portrayal of Gallifrey and its inhabitants from the tale they appeared in at their debut in 1969 . Instead of being near ethereal God like beings as seen in The War Games of 1969 they're now envisaged as being clergy like with their hierarchy of elderly Cardinals and the like . You have to look upon it from a production point of view and that is if the story is any good then damn continuity because you're only upsetting a small handful of fans who don't really matter in the grand scheme of things

" So Theo is the story any good ? "

Yes it's good . Not really radical storytelling that pushes the boundaries of television but a fairly good story which owes a lot - perhaps too much - to THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE with echoes of the JFK shooting and Watergate . That said most of the story's reputation comes from the style it's told in rather than the substance of the story itself . David Maloney was a class director and he extends himself here and makes the most of a legendary third episode that sees the Doctor battling a Time Lord traitor in a virtual reality landscape . Maloney was always good at developing cliffhanger endings and he got in to serious trouble with the episode three cliffhanger where the Doctor is seen to drown . Indeed the entire story has a dark brooding feel to it that had Mary Whitehouse and her cohorts complaining that it was terrifying small children . You can always tell if a story is good due to how loudly Mary Whitehouse was trying to shout it down . 13 million TV viewers who tuned in to his story might contradict her views

In summary this is a good story .Personal tastes are entirely subjective of course and despite it forever appearing in top ten fan polls I do consider it to be a case of style over substance and not a story I constantly rewatch , possibly down to the fact that a major subplot involves a Time Lord traitor who isn't revealed till the end of episode three . Once you know who the traitor is much of the story then becomes redundant

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