Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: Part One 

The Doctor and Ace visit the psychic circus on the planet Segonax and encounter the evil supernatural forces that really run it.


Alan Wareing


Stephen Wyatt


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Episode cast overview:
Sylvester McCoy ... The Doctor
Sophie Aldred ... Ace
T.P. McKenna ... The Captain
Jessica Martin Jessica Martin ... Mags
Ricco Ross ... Ringmaster
Peggy Mount ... Stallslady
Ian Reddington ... Chief Clown
Deborah Manship Deborah Manship ... Morgana
Christopher Guard Christopher Guard ... Bellboy
Gian Sammarco Gian Sammarco ... Whizzkid
Daniel Peacock Daniel Peacock ... Nord
Dee Sadler Dee Sadler ... Flowerchild
Dean Hollingsworth Dean Hollingsworth ... Bus Conductor


The Doctor decides to take Ace to the planet Segonax. Current home of the Psychic Circus. But previously unknown to the Doctor. His young traveling companion has an irrational fear of clowns. A fact that the Time lord chooses to ignore. The circus however is far from your ordinary run of the mill attraction. Run by the Ringmaster and aided by the his cohorts Morgana and the sinister Chief Clown. They encourage visitors to audition and be a part of the show. An odd assortment of characters make their way to the Circus. Some willing to audition and other's not so enthusiastic. The geeky, fan boy known as Whizzkid. The brutish intergalactic biker called Nord and the untrustworthy, caddish explorer, Captain Cook and his traveling companion, Mags. But auditioning at the Psychcic circus carries a price. A fatal one for those who fail to entertain the mysterious family of three who always sit at the back of the stalls. The revelation that something darker is taking place beneath the brightly... Written by Robert McElwaine

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Plot Keywords:

doctor who | seventh doctor | See All (2) »








Release Date:

14 December 1988 (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?


This story was originally intended to be the second story transmitted in the season, before The Happiness Patrol and Silver Nemesis. When the broadcast order was changed by John Nathan-Turner due to a delay brought about by the 1988 Olympics, two errors suddenly presented themselves. They weren't, strictly, continuity errors, as nothing demanded that Season 25 be watched in the order of original transmission. Nevertheless, if the season were viewed in transmission order, two things about Ace were incongruous:
  • Flowerchild's earring could be seen on Ace's jacket in the preceding serial, Silver Nemesis, despite the fact that she only acquired it during this serial.
  • During part one, Ace searches for her rucksack, which she blew up during the events of Nemesis.
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Junk Mail: Scared?
Ace: What?
Junk Mail: Scared to come to the Psychic Circus?
Ace: No.
Junk Mail: Scared to take part?
Ace: No, of course not.
Junk Mail: Well, if you are then go right ahead. Ignore me. I quite understand.
Ace: I don't believe it. Junk mail that talks back.
See more »


References Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

A great opener, a really imaginative story.
21 January 2019 | by Sleepin_DragonSee all my reviews

I love the opening episode, it has such a rich content, it's an episode that plays on a fear many people have, clowns. Why create a new alien race, when we have clowns, when used to good effect, they make the most terrifying menace of all. Not a huge deal of threat in this one, it's mainly implied, this episode gives you a taster for what's to come, it introduces some terrific characters. I absolutely love The Captain played by T.P. McKenna and Peggy Mounts stall keeper, two marvellous actors.

It's typical eighties sci fi horror, the monster shooting rays, and the terrific bus conductor. Some really nice special effects, and a definite energy, all make for a terrific opening episode.

It's not a full house though, Nord and Adrian Mole are both very irritating, and the music is maybe a little cumbersome. All in all though, I really enjoyed it. 8/10

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