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Serial Code


First Transmitted

7 January 1978

Final Ratings






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Regular Cast

Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Louise Jameson (Leela), John Leeson (K9)

Guest Cast

James Maxwell (Jackson), Alan Lake (Herrick), Jonathan Newth (Orfe), Imogen Bickford-Smith (Tala), James Marcus (Rask) [2-4], Godfrey James (Tarn) [2-4], Jimmy Gardner (Idmon) [2-4], Norman Tipton (Idas) [2-4], Jay Neill (Guard Klimt) [2], Frank Jarvis (Ankh) [3-4], Richard Shaw (Lakh) [3-4], Stacey Tendeter (Naia) [3-4], Christine Pollon (Voice of the Oracle) [3-4].


Written by Bob Baker And Dave Martin
Directed by Norman Stewart
Produced by Graham Williams


1 “Part One” 22:36 7 January 1978 8.9m
2 “Part Two” 21:27 14 January 1978 9.1m
3 “Part Three” 22:21 21 January 1978 8.9m
4 “Part Four” 22:53 28 January 1978 11.7m


at the very edge of the known universe, the TARDIS materialises on an ageing spacecraft, the R1C. On board, the Fourth Doctor and Leela meet Jackson and his crew. They are doggedly pursuing their mission to recover the Minyan race bank from a ship which left their home planet centuries earlier.

Closing in on the P7E at last, Jackson risks everything to follow the trail into the heart of a newly formed planet. Can The Doctor help Jackson face his greatest challenge and secure the future of the Minyans?


  • The Minyan spacecraft set turned out to be more expensive than anticipated, thus almost all other scenes were created using CSO.
  • In part one, Leela uses a Minyan ray-gun to blast away a door. Tom Baker wasn’t in the correct position when the camera started rolling again when the door was removed, so The Doctor’s body placement is seen to change instantly.
  • The story makes frequent allusion to the story of Jason and the Argonauts, including the similar naming of various characters: Jackson/Jason, Herrick/Heracles, Tala/Atalanta, Orfe/Orpheus, Minyos/Minos, R1C/Argossey, P7E/Persephone.
  • This story had a working title of Underground.
  • The DVD production notes point out that all 4 episodes ran short of their allotted running time, forcing the use of extended shots and repeated shots for padding. Part 2 and 3, in particular, were so much in need of padding that reprises much longer than usual were used in both.
  • Also according to the production notes, the recently released Star Wars influenced certain aspects of the production, especially when it was learned that the film would be released in the UK 10 days before Underworld was scheduled to air.
  • Episode 1 was broadcast only a few days after the Terry Nation-created series Blake’s 7 debuted. Composer Dudley Simpson worked on both shows and, according to the DVD production notes, snuck a reference to the Blake’s 7 theme music into the score for the Underworld episode.
  • The DVD featurette Into the Unknown reveals that budget restrictions were so tight on Underworld that the idea of cancelling it altogether and allotting its budget to The Invasion of Time (or cancelling The Invasion of Time and using that story’s budget to fund a location shoot for the cave sequences in this story) was suggested, but was ultimately rejected as an option by Graham Williams.
  • The scenes of Fourth Doctor shepherding the Trogs through the caves and onto the P7E were devised and organised by Tom Baker himself.
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