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Sabalom Glitz was a rogue from the planet Salostopus in the galaxy of Andromeda. The morality of his activities was dubious even when their legality was not. Though Glitz’s first love was money, he occasionally made uneasy alliances with the Doctor in his sixth and seventh incarnations, and also briefly worked with the Master.
Glitz’s background was predictably shady (he claimed to be wanted in numerous galaxies), though he once claimed to be the product of a broken home — which, according to at least one prison psychiatrist, was the cause of his more sociopathic tendencies. He was already an accomplished criminal when the Sixth Doctor and Peri first encountered him. With his accomplice, Dibber, he came to the planet Earth (at that time known by name of Ravolox) in order to acquire secrets from the Matrix, then in the possession of the L3 robot Drathro.
Glitz planned to destroy the black light system which provided Drathro with energy and then steal the secrets. When Dibber destroyed the external collection aerial, the system became dangerously unstable, and only the Doctor’s intervention prevented a potentially catastrophic explosion. (The Mysterious Planet)
Near the end of the Doctor’s trial by the Time Lords Glitz, like Melanie Bush, was dispatched to the space station by his business partner, the renegade Time Lord known as the Master. Glitz accompanied the Doctor into the simulated reality of the Matrix to fight the Valeyard. The Master bribed Glitz to betray the Doctor, but in turn was tricked by the Valeyard. Given what he thought were the true secrets of the Matrix, the Master tried to upload them into the systems of his TARDIS. This activated a particle disseminator so that both were in fact trapped, causing the Master and Glitz to be paralysed within the TARDIS. After the Doctor had finally defeated the Valeyard, he pleaded with the Time Lords to show leniency to Glitz, who he believed still had some good in him. (The Ultimate Foe)
Glitz next ran into the Doctor when he and Dibber planned the “crime of the century” on the planet Vandor Prime, where they also stole a spacecraft called the Nosferatu. The Doctor and Frobisher collaborated with Glitz to steal a valuable artefact in order to avert interstellar war by returning it to its original owners. According to this account, however, Dibber was killed during the mission. (Impractical)
After regenerating into his seventh incarnation, the Doctor and Mel next ran into Glitz on Iceworld, a tourist destination and trading post on the planet Svartos. Glitz owed money to the vengeful Kane, having bankrupted himself with a gambling debt. The crew of the Nosferatu, who had rebelled against Glitz’s dubious leadership, were sold to Kane to form part of his army of amnesiac warriors.
Glitz had by this time made the acquaintance of the then sixteen-year-old Ace, a human who had travelled to this time by time storm from the year 1987 and now worked as a waitress. (TV: Dragonfire) Despite their age differences, Ace had lost her virginity to him whilst on Iceworld. (PROSE: Happy Endings)
After Kane destroyed the Nosferatu, Glitz was consumed by vengeance. The folly of Kane’s ambitions were revealed to him by the Doctor. Kane’s people had died out thousands of years ago, leaving him no one on which to revenge himself. Kane chose to kill himself, leaving Glitz with Iceworld, which he christened the Nosferatu II. Glitz was not pleased when Mel decided to stay behind to help him run his business and make sure that he gave up his criminal ways. (TV: Dragonfire)
Another account showed that, at this time, Dibber was still alive, and that Mel continued to travel with them for at least six months. At one point, she wanted to seek Earth, so Glitz and Dibber abandoned her to search on her own. (PROSE: Head Games) After Mel left, Glitz and Dibber took possession of a miniscope containing Drashigs, in which Romana II was imprisoned by the Time Lord Ruath. She was later rescued, and the miniscope was destroyed. (PROSE: Goth Opera)
Mel considered Glitz to be a ne’er-do-well. (A Life of Crime)
Glitz and Mel once encountered a Galactic Heritage fleet. The experience led Mel to describe the organisation as “a militarised, spacefaring National Trust”. (The High Price of Parking)
Behind the scenes
Doctor Who scripts by Robert Holmes, a former police officer, frequently included some sort of “dodgy” colourful character, usually a criminal. These ranged from Garron, Vorg, Milo Clancey and Henry Gordon Jago, to the more serious Tryst, Stotz and Rohm-Dutt. Of these, only Glitz appeared in more than one televised story. He was also the last major character created by Holmes, as he died while writing Glitz’s second story, The Ultimate Foe.
Writer Ian Briggs created the character of Ace. When writing a character background for her he decided that she had sex for the first time on Iceworld, with Glitz. Predictably, this never got revealed on-screen, though Paul Cornell addressed this in Happy Endings.
Glitz is sometimes referred to as a companion, due to his return appearance during the last segment The Trial of a Time Lord. Although this is disputed, it is interesting to note that in the 2008-09 comic book series The Forgotten, when the Tenth Doctor encounters an entity capable of impersonating his past companions, the Doctor discusses the possibility of the entity turning into Sabalom Glitz.
Glitz also appeared in the gag-comic strip How Much For Just The Planet?