This article includes a list of general references, but it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (June 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

018 – Galaxy 4
Doctor Who serial
Galaxy 4.jpg
The Drahvins, with their weapons drawn, and a Chumbley (publicity still)
Directed byDerek Martinus
Mervyn Pinfield (uncredited)[1]
Written byWilliam Emms
Script editorDonald Tosh
Produced byVerity Lambert
Executive producer(s)None
Incidental music composerStock music by Les Structures Sonores
Production codeT
SeriesSeason 3
Running time4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing3 episodes (1, 2 and 4); 6 minutes exist from episode 1 – Four Hundred Dawns
First broadcast11 September 1965 (1965-09-11)
Last broadcast2 October 1965 (1965-10-02)
← Preceded by
The Time Meddler
Followed by →
"Mission to the Unknown"
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

Galaxy 4 (alternatively written as Galaxy Four) is the mostly missing first serial of the third season in the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 11 September to 2 October 1965.

In this serial, the Doctor (William Hartnell) and his travelling companions Steven (Peter Purves) and Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) arrive on an arid planet within the titular Galaxy 4, where they encounter the beautiful but dangerous Drahvins and the hideous but friendly Rills, two crash landed species in conflict with one another. Both species wish to escape as the planet is set to explode in two dawns, but the Drahvin leader Maaga (Stephanie Bidmead) only wants for her people to make it out alive.

Only the third episode ("Air Lock"), as well as a six-minute reel of the first episode ("Four Hundred Dawns") are held in the BBC Archives. The rest of the serial remains missing.

The serial was released in animated form on DVD and Blu-ray on 15 November 2021.[2] The surviving episode, plus the existing six-minute segment from the first episode were included as extras.


This episode's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. Please help improve it by removing unnecessary details and making it more concise. (June 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

The First Doctor, Vicki, and Steven Taylor arrive on an eerily silent planet and encounter curious short and squat non-humanoid robots which resemble three domes stacked on top of each other, and Vicki decides to call the blind, beeping metre-tall machines "Chumbleys" because of what she calls the "chumbley" way they move.

The TARDIS crew are still trying to decide whether the Chumbleys are hostile or not when one is disabled by an all-female party of cloned blonde Drahvin warriors from the planet Drahva in Galaxy 4. It is revealed that the unknown planet they are on is also in Galaxy 4 but is not given a name. The Drahvins are dominated by their cruel leader, Maaga, who treats her simple-minded subordinates with bullying contempt. The Drahvins are at war with the reptilian Rills, the masters of the Chumbleys, and both races have crashed spaceships on this planet.

The planet will be destroyed in 14 planetary cycles and, with the Drahvin ship irreparable, Maaga and her warriors are keen to capture the Rill ship, which they believe has been made functional again. Maaga paints a picture of the Drahvins as the attacked species in the scenario, but the Doctor has witnessed some of the Drahvin aggression and is clearly not convinced. He calculates the planet will break up in just two days' time. The Doctor tries to keep this new finding from the Drahvins, but Maaga forces the truth from him at the point of a gun.

With Steven held as hostage to ensure their co-operation, the Doctor and Vicki are sent by the Drahvins to try to seize control of the Rill ship. The Doctor works out that the ammonia-breathing Rills are a very advanced species: when he meets one he is impressed, not least by their species' use of telepathy. The huge and impressive, horned warthog-like Rill explains that they have offered to take the Drahvins away with them but Maaga has refused, preferring to maintain a state of war. The Doctor tells the Rills of the true life remaining in the planet and promises to help them escape, since the solar energy converters on the Rill craft have not gathered enough power to effect a lift-off.

The Doctor and Vicki return to the Drahvin ship to find Steven unconscious after Maaga has tried to kill him by leaving him in a depressurised airlock. They all return to the Rill vessel, where the Doctor successfully develops a power converter linked to the TARDIS, which charges the Rill craft. Maaga leads the Drahvins in a final assault but the Chumbleys defend their ship long enough for it to power up and leave the planet. One Chumbley left behind to aid the time travellers helps them get back to the TARDIS. Once the ship leaves, the planet explodes, with the Drahvins perishing on the dying world.

The story ends with a lead in to "Mission to the Unknown" with Vicki looking at a planet, and wondering what is happening on it. The action then switches to the planet, where Jeff Garvey in a jungle is repeating "I must kill".


The working title for this story was The Chumbleys.[3]

Although intended to air in Doctor Who's third season, it was produced by the same team that worked on the second season serial The Time Meddler.[4] Producer Verity Lambert departed the show at the end of season two, and was being replaced by John Wiles. Wiles was shadowing Lambert, and oversaw a good portion of the production of Galaxy 4.[4]

William Emms was an English teacher in London who had turned to writing full-time four years earlier. He submitted an unsolicited story idea to the production office.[5] Emms was commissioned to write the script by season two story editor Dennis Spooner, who left the program before the end of the season. His replacement, Donald Tosh, oversaw the serial's production and received on-screen credit.[4] The Drahvins were initially men. While casting was going on, their gender was changed to female, in part as a nod to the emerging women's liberation movement and in part to better emphasize the difference between the beautiful Drahvins and horrific-looking Rills. The Drahvin leader's name was changed from Gar to Maaga at this time as well.[6]

The four warthog-like Rill costumes were made of grey-green painted fiberglass and latex. The costumes were largely immobile, although the performer inside could move the arms. To simulate the ammonia atmosphere the Rills breathed, dry ice fog was used. Anthony Paul was hired to voice the Rills, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from doing so. He was replaced by Robert Cartland.[7]

Production designer Richard Hunt created the Chumbleys. Four robots were made. Each was about 3 feet (0.91 m) in height and consisted of three stacked domes made of fiberglass. A light at the top of the dome flashed on and off to indicate that the Chumbley was in contact with the Rills. Various stick-like appendanges (representing probes, ray guns, manipulators, and so on) could be attached to the robot between the base and second dome, and these could be moved about by the performer inside. A ring of small domes in the shape of rocket engine nozzles surrounded the base of each robot, hiding the casters on which the costume moved as well as imitating the propulsion units of the mechanoid. Little people performed the Chumbleys.[8]

To depict the destruction of the planet, an exploding planet prop was filmed and then shown in reverse.[9]

The serial was filmed at the BBC Television Film Studios in Ealing.[6] As was typical for a Doctor Who shoot, production occurred in the early part of the week, with cast rehearsals on Thursday and cast filming on Friday. "Four Hundred Dawns" was filmed 9 July, "Trap of Steel" 16 July, "Air Lock" 23 July, and "Exploding Planet" on 30 July.[10] Production costs were so low that pre-filming funds were used to several planet scenes from episode one, the Drahvin-Chumbley fight from episode four, and several visual effects shots.[11]

Mervyn Pinfield was hired to direct Galaxy 4.[6] As shooting began, he fell ill and was replaced by Derek Martinus. Martinus had seen only a few episodes of the show, and reviewed several with Verity Lambert prior to taking over. When Martinus took over, Pinfield was still at work, so Martinus was limited to making suggestions and preparing his own scripts for a short time.[12] Even though Pinfield had already shot several days of footage,[13] his work went uncredited.[14]

The regular cast was unhappy with the script. William Hartnell (The Doctor) and Maureen O'Brien (Vicki) felt dialogue and behavior were not consistent with their characters. The script originally was written for companions Ian and Barbara. Peter Purves (Steven) was given much of Barbara's dialogue and part. He felt the dialogue was not changed enough, and disliked that his character overpowered by the female Drahvins.[15]

The Martinus and his production team immediately began work on the standalone single episode "Mission to the Unknown" after completing work on Galaxy 4. "Mission to the Unknown" was essentially treated as part of the production of Galaxy 4.[15]

Surviving episodes

The BBC no longer holds the complete serial in its archives, although on 11 December 2011 it was announced that episode 3, "Air Lock", had been discovered earlier that year among material bought by former ITV engineer Terry Burnett;[16][17] however, due to a break in the film, the last 27 seconds of action and the closing credits are all missing from the print.[18] Additionally, almost six minutes' worth of footage from episode 1, "Four Hundred Dawns", is held in the archive thanks to a 1977 documentary entitled Whose Doctor Who—although only 30 seconds were eventually used, the footage that was discarded was kept by Jan Vincent-Rudzki, then-president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, who acted as a technical advisor on the documentary programme, and who returned the footage he had kept to the BBC in the 1990s.[19][20]

Broadcast and reception

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [21]
Archive [22]
1"Four Hundred Dawns"22:2111 September 1965 (1965-09-11)9.0Only stills and/or fragments exist
2"Trap of Steel"24:5118 September 1965 (1965-09-18)9.5Only stills and/or fragments exist
3"Air Lock"24:1925 September 1965 (1965-09-25)11.316mm t/r
4"The Exploding Planet"24:472 October 1965 (1965-10-02)9.9Only stills and/or fragments exist

^† Episode is missing

The ratings for this story ranged from 9 million viewers for episode one to a peak of 11.3 million viewers for episode three.

Radio Times reviewer Patrick Mulkern thought the story was "By no means a classic" but did have "sparks of originality". Mulkern considered it to be "an entertaining if pedestrian beginning" to season 3.[23]

Ian Levine claimed that the Doctor Who Appreciation Society obtained legal permission to privately screen this serial at a convention in 1978, only to find that the BBC had junked the episodes about three weeks prior.[24] Later research subsequently showed this to be mistaken, as the DWAS never held any agreement to show the serial, and BBC Enterprises appear to have junked at least one of the episodes by the end of 1976.[25]

Commercial releases

In print

Galaxy Four
Doctor Who Galaxy Four.jpg
AuthorWilliam Emms
Cover artistAndrew Skilleter
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
November 1985 (hardback) 10 April 1986 (paperback)

A novelisation of this serial, written by William Emms, was published by Target Books in November 1985, entitled Galaxy Four.

The script of this serial was published by Titan Books in July 1994, edited by John McElroy, here entitled Galaxy 4. At the time of printing, the only audio recording known to exist was a poor-quality copy of the second episode "Trap of Steel" which had several parts completely inaudible.[26]

Home media

The existing clip from "Four Hundred Dawns" was featured in the documentary The Missing Years, which was released on VHS in 1998 and on DVD (as part of the Lost in Time box set) in 2004.

The newly rediscovered third episode, "Air Lock", was released on 11 March 2013, as an extra on the "Special Edition" DVD release of The Aztecs;[27] It was included alongside an abridged 40-minute reconstruction of the three missing episodes which used the surviving reel of the first episode, newly made footage, CGI, audio and photographs.[28][29] This reconstruction carries a copyright date of 2007 and had been originally prepared for the DVD of The Time Meddler, before episode 3 was rediscovered. The full four episode cut of the reconstruction remains unreleased.[citation needed]

The full soundtrack for the serial, recorded off-air by fans at home, is intact and was released commercially in 2002, with linking narration provided by Peter Purves.[30] The soundtrack with the Purves narration was also made available on vinyl by Demon Records on 13 April 2019, to coincide with Record Store Day.[31]

The story was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 15 November 2021, with all four episodes animated in both colour and black-and-white, with the surviving Episode 3 and footage from Episode 1 also included. The release also contained a full photographic reconstruction of Episodes 1, 2 and 4 using the surviving production stills, as well as additional bonus features - including a documentary about Episode 3's recovery.[2] It was released only on Blu-ray in North America on 5 April 2022.

See also


  1. ^ "BBC – Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – Galaxy 4 – Details". Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Missing adventure 'Galaxy Four' to be animated in 2021". 15 September 2021. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  3. ^ Walker 1994, pp. 10–11.
  4. ^ a b c Walker 1994, p. 9.
  5. ^ Walker 1994, p. 10.
  6. ^ a b c Walker 1994, p. 11.
  7. ^ Walker 1994, p. 13.
  8. ^ Walker 1994, pp. 13–14.
  9. ^ Walker 1994, p. 14.
  10. ^ McElroy 1994, pp. 19–20.
  11. ^ Walker 1994, pp. 11–12.
  12. ^ Walker 1994, pp. 12–13.
  13. ^ Walker 1994, p. 12.
  14. ^ McElroy 1994, p. 21.
  15. ^ a b Walker 1994, p. 15.
  16. ^ "Missing Episodes Recovered!". BBC. 11 December 2011. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  17. ^ Plunkett, John (12 December 2011). "'Lost' Doctor Who episodes from 1960s returned to BBC". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  18. ^ "Doctor Who: two long-lost episodes uncovered". Radio Times. 11 December 2011. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  19. ^ Phillips, Steve. "Galaxy Four episode 1 (Four Hundred Dawns)". The Doctor Who Clips List. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  20. ^ Jan Vincent-Rudzki (1998). The Missing Years (documentary included on The Ice Warriors Collection set) (VHS). BBC Worldwide.
  21. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Archived from the original on 11 September 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  22. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "Galaxy 4". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 31 March 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  23. ^ "Galaxy 4 *** | Radio Times". 11 April 2014. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014.
  24. ^ Levine, Ian (July 1992). "The Mark of Destruction: The truth behind the missing episodes of Doctor Who (part one)". DWB (103): 12–15.
  25. ^ Bignell, Richard (June 2005). "Withdrawn, De-accessioned and Junked". Nothing at the End of the Lane – the Magazine of Doctor Who Research and Restoration (2): 44–49.
  26. ^ Emms, William (July 1994). McElroy, John (ed.). Doctor Who – The Scripts: Galaxy 4. London: Titan Books. pp. 2, 5–6. ISBN 1-85286-566-0.
  27. ^ "DVD Update: 2013 updates and expectations". Doctor Who News. 20 August 1975. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  28. ^ Elton Townend Jones. "Galaxy 4 Features Doctor Who: The Aztecs Special Edition DVD". Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  29. ^ "DOCTOR WHO – THE AZTECS – VAM". British Board of Film Classification. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  30. ^ "Doctor Who: Galaxy 4 (TV Soundtrack)". AudioGo. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  31. ^ "RSD 2019 Doctor Who Galaxy 4 Vinyl LP".