Doctor Who: The Masters of Luxor Review

“THE WAIT IS OVER… A dark and silent planet. A magnificent crystal edifice, perched on a mountainside. A legion of dormant robots, waiting for the signal to bring them back to life. The Doctor and his granddaughter Susan, and their reluctant companions, Ian and Barbara, are about to unleash forces which will threaten their very survival.
Read for the first time the complete script of this magnificent, but regrettably never produced Doctor Who story.”
The back-cover blurb of this Titan script book (1992) previews one of the earliest “lost” Doctor Who stories: The Masters of Luxor. Like all of the first 118 Hartnell episodes, each of the 6-parts of this story had an individual title, namely: The Cannibal Flower, The Mockery of a Man, A Light on the Dead Planet, Tabon of Luxor, An Infinity of Surprises, and The Flower Blooms.
The embryonic series was to open with The Giants followed by The Masters of Luxor, but ultimately both of these Anthony Coburn scripts were abandoned in favour of 100,000 BC (aka The Tribe of Gum, then An Unearthly Child) and The Daleks (aka The Mutants) respectively. The rest, they say, is history.
The crystal-city in which the TARDIS crew become trapped is in fact an automated prison on one of Luxor’s 700 satelites, in the Primiddion galaxy.
The decadent Luxorite society was strictly ordered (effectively enslaved by their own robots), and anyone who revolted against the titular Masters was exiled to the prison-moon. The Masters deemed the women of Luxor to be inferior, and any “imperfect” female children were killed.
The rebels were then subjected to experimentation from Lord Tabon, one of the Scientific Masters, in his quest to create the ‘Perfect One’ in man’s image (shades of Frankenstein). So both Tabon and his creation seem to have developed a God-complex, and this religious issue is touched upon in the scripts.
The Perfect One now seeks to drain the “flesh and blood” life-force from the time-travellers too, particularly the elusive “women”. This idea is further explored in The Savages (1966).
Tabon’s One has a liquid-metal cerebrum. When this Azzintium cortex is solidified by making One immobile, an atomic device linked to it’s brain explodes and destroys the moon.
  • This story immediately follows events in The Tribe of Gum (Coal Hill Comprehensive, Kal and Za are all mentioned here)
  • The TARDIS can “free float” (ie. be manoeuvred “like a helicopter”); possesses a kind of intuitive power; has a Fault Locator (also seen in The Daleks, The Edge of Destructionand The Planet of Giants); holds an “emergency” energy supply; is continually referred to as “she”; and is actually solar-powered
  • The moon is described as a “dead planet” (but this one is not radioactive like Skaro), and the prison is a very similar setting to the Dalek city, with it’s surveillance cameras and mountain-side “back-door”
  • Barbara compares the city to the carnivorous cannibal flower, sucking the TARDIS’ power away
  • The Doctor has a photographic memory, quotes Karl Marx, and embraces Tabon’s religion
  • Susan is called Sue or Suzanne throughout the original scripts
  • The Doctor and Susan are not human (Ian and Barbara are “you Earth people”) which ties in more with the pilot epiosde
  • Cliffhanger recaps are absent from the scripts, and part six would have led directly into The Edge of Destruction
  • Coburn’s scripts feature a hierarchy of robots: the “primitive” Mark One machines (which bow at commands, and seem incapable of speech); the more humanoid Mark Two’s; the more advanced Derivitrons (one is even named, Proto); and their overall master, the human-like ‘Perfect One’ (programmed by Tabon)
  • These automata have a remarkable parallel to those central to the future story The Robots of Death (1977) – here, the black ‘Dums’ servants are the lowest ranked robots in their caste-system (they cannot speak), the green ‘Vocs’ are superior to the Dums, whilst the silver ‘Super Vocs’ control all other robots – the roboticist Dask (unmasked as Taren Capel, who was raised by robots and hates mankind) has reprogrammed all of the Sandminer’s automata to obey his will

About ecklefecken

Whovian/Pethead/Tartan Noir reader/Ripperologist/Blogger
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