25 October 1975
Bernard Archard (Marcus Scarman), Michael Sheard (Laurence Scarman) [1-3], Peter Copley (Dr. Warlock) [1-2], Peter Mayock (Ibrahim Namin) [1-2], Michael Bilton (Collins) , Vik Tablian (Ahmed) , Nick Burnell, Melvyn Bedford, Kevin Selway (Mummies), George Tovey (Ernie Clements) , Gabriel Woolf (Sutekh) [3-4]
|Written by||Stephen Harris|
|Directed by||Paddy Russell|
|Produced by||Philip Hinchcliffe|
Returning to UNIT HQ on Earth, TARDIS is thrown violently about by a mysterious force and Sarah and Doctor arrive instead at an old priory in year 1911. owner, Marcus Scarman, has been excavating ancient tombs and is possessed by spirit of Sutekh, bringer of ‘gift of death to all mankind’.
Sutekh has lain for thousands of years in his pyramid prison and Scarman and his robot mummies plan to release this ancient and evil power. Will Sutekh all-powerful be freed from his bonds and destroy world, or will Doctor manage to bring about his destruction?
- This story was originally written by Lewis Greifer, but was considered unworkable. As Greifer was unavailable to do rewrites, scripts were completely rewritten by Robert Holmes. pseudonym used on transmission was Stephen Harris. Exterior scenes were shot on Stargroves estate in Hampshire, which was owned by Mick Jagger at time. same location would be used during filming of Image of Fendahl.
- Sarah refers to puzzles being similar to that of Exxilon City in Death to Daleks, although she personally never entered City.
- The Doctor notes that Osirians had “dome-shaped heads, and cerebrums like spiral staircases”. unmasked Sutekh at end of serial (resembling Set animal) does not have a domed head.
- Pyramids of Mars contributes to one of biggest and most widely discussed contradictions in Doctor Who universe: “UNIT dating controversy.”
- Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen improvised a number of moments in this story, most notably a scene in Part Four where Doctor and Sarah start to walk out of their hiding place and then when they see a mummy, quickly dart back into it. Baker based scene on a Marx Brothers routine.
- The new TARDIS console which debuted in preceding story Planet of Evil does not appear again until Invisible Enemy. Owing to cost of setting up TARDIS console room for filming of only a handful of scenes, a new console set was designed for following season.
Several scenes were deleted from final broadcast. A model shot of TARDIS landing in landscape of a barren, alternative 1980 Earth was to be used in Part Two, but director Paddy Russell decided viewers would feel more impact if first scene of new Earth was Sarah’s reaction as TARDIS doors opened. Three scenes of effects such as doors opening and Doctor materializing from sarchopagus were removed from final edit of Part Four because Russell felt mixes were not good enough. These scenes were included on DVD, along with an alternate version of poacher being hunted down in Part Two, and a full version of Osirian rocket explosion.
- Although name of Sutekh’s race is pronounced “Osiran” throughout serial, scripts and publicity material spell it as “Osirian” in some places and as “Osiran” in others. Many fans use “Osirian” spelling, as do some reference works such as Battles in Time collectable card game and Virgin Missing Adventures sequel novel Sands of Time. Another member of Osirian race also appears in Big Finish Productions audio drama Bride of Peladon.
- Gabriel Woolf reprised his role as Sutekh in Faction Paradox audio dramas Coming to Dust (2005), Ship of a Billion Years (2006), Body Politic (2008), Words from Nine Divinities (2008), Ozymandias (2009) and Judgment of Sutekh (2009, forthcoming), from Magic Bullet Productions, he reprised the role in The New Adventures Of Bernice Summerfield; The Triumph Of Sutekh. He was also the Beast in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit.
- Order the DVD