29 January 1977
Russell Hunter (Uvanov), Pamela Salem (Toos), David Bailie (Dask), David Collings (Poul), Brian Croucher (Borg) [1-2], Tania Rogers (Zilda) [1-2]*, Tariq Yunus (Cass) [1-2], Rob Edwards (Chub)  Gregory de Ponlay (D.84), Miles Fothergill (S.V.7); Mark Blackwell Baker, John Bleasdale, Mark Cooper, Peter Langtry, Jeremy Ranchev, Richard Seager (Robots).
|Written by||Chris Boucher|
|Directed by||Michael Briant|
|Produced by||Philip Hinchcliffe|
On a distant, barren planet, Storm Mine 4 trawls across bleak deserts and through fierce duststorms in search of rare and valuable metals. On board the Sandminer is a small skeleton crew, who alternate between indulgent relaxation and skilled mining work. The mundane, day-to-day duties of the mine are attended to by a much larger complement of servile robots. This is a society that is dependant on robots for all areas of life, the people comforted by the knowledge that the strictest safeguards are built into each and every robot’s programming. So when one of the miner crew is murdered, suspicion falls on two new arrivals…
The Doctor and Leela arrive on board, and are immediately accused of being the prime murder suspects. But The Doctor soon realises that perhaps the killer isn’t human. More deaths occur — can he persuade the remaining crewmembers that the killer may be a robot?
- This story had the working titles The Storm-Mine Murders and Planet of the Robots
- This is one of the few stories which explains, in relative simplicity, using a demonstration with two boxes, how the TARDIS is dimensionally transcendental.
- This story is the last one in which the wood-panelled TARDIS control room appears.
- There have been several influences suggested for Robots of Death including:
This story was obviously based on Isaac Asimov’s Robot mysteries, such as I, Robot. In particular, the human/robot police duo Elijah Bailey and R Daneel Olivaw from Caves of Steel and its sequels may be the inspiration for the Poul/D84 pair. Prominent mention is made of Asimov’s First Law of Robotics: “A robot may not harm a human being, or through inaction allow a human being to come to harm.”
- Another inspiration for the story was Agatha Christie’s novel, Ten Little Indians, in which several people on an island are murdered one by one.
- The Sandminer setting is based on Frank Herbert’s Dune.
- Robophobia, an irrational fear of robots, is at one point referred to as ‘Grimwade’s syndrome’. This was an in-joke reference to production assistant Peter Grimwade (later to become a director and writer on the series) who had bemoaned the fact that the stories on which he was assigned to work almost always involved robots. However, the description of robophobia given by The Doctor in fact coincides with a real-life phenomenon called the Uncanny Valley.
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