THIS STORY TAKES
TV STORIES "AN
AND "THE DALEKS."
OFFICIAL TITAN SCRIPT
BOOK (ISBN 1-85286-
321-8) RELEASED IN
A dark and silent
perched on a
A legion of dormant
robots, waiting for
the signal to bring
them back to life.
The Doctor AND HIS
COMPANIONS are about
to unleash forces
which will threaten
their very survival...
1. THE CANNIBAL FLOWER 2. THE MOCKERY OF A MAN
3. A LIGHT ON THE DEAD PLANET 4. TABON OF LUXOR
5. AN INFINITY OF SURPRISES 6. THE FLOWER BLOOMS
The Masters of Luxor is one of those sought-after gems; an unmade serial from
the original series. Out of the increasing number of these that we fans have discovered, it’s perhaps the most famous (after the partially-made Shada). The reason for this is that, back in 1992, the BBC gave Titan Books the licence to publish script books. Luxor was chosen, alongside other completed serials. Since then, it has become very tricky to find, selling for wildly inflated prices on Amazon and eBay. I was fortunate to pick up a copy for a measly £7.50, and I’m glad to say that it was worth it (though probably not worth the £58 the other seller was demanding...)
When presented with an abandoned story, it’s natural to wonder whether it will be something of a disappointment. After all, it had to be shelved for some reason. Thankfully, I can say that I was pleased with the story, and whilst I’m naturally overjoyed that The Daleks was made in its place, I fail to see why Luxor was scrapped. Anthony Coburn, author of the previous, and premiere, serial, An Unearthly Child, delivers here an enthralling six-parter. It does display the slow style of storytelling that we’ve come to expect from early 1960s serials, but I’d say it moved along rather quicker than many of its contemporaries.
The serial (also known to some as The Robots), paints the regulars in a different light than we’ve become used to. The afterword to the book reveals even more – Susan is named throughout as Suzanne, for example – but these would, as editor John McElroy points out, have been altered when such things were eventually nailed down prior to production, had
the serial been made. However, numerous oddities survive. The most notable, I feel, is the surprising spiritual side to the Doctor and Susan. Presented in almost all later stories as a sceptic and a realist, the Doctor is here a man of both science and faith.
THE DOCTOR Religion sneering at scientific progress… or scientific progress
sneering at religion… either of them can lull the people to sleep.
SUSAN Why are you Earth people afraid of the word “God?”
The Doctor and Susan are also more explicitly alien than in many later stories, with the Time Lords frequently referring to their “own people” and their scientific and cultural achievements, and referring to Ian and Barbara as “Earth people”. Other differences are slighter, and more amusing. Some of the dialogue is distinctly odd, not to mention delightfully naff, with both Ian and Susan exclaiming “Holy Moley!” at points. Ian is characterised as something of a randy young thing, making slightly chauvinistic jokes, and at one point exclaiming to a robot:
“They’re women, old mechanical chum, W-O-M-E-N.
And if you think your perceptor coils are the only ones affected…”
The differences between women and men are frequently highlighted, with Barbara’s female intuition pitted against the Doctor’s stark rationalism (not unlike the situation in The Edge of Destruction), and some very 1960s, or even 1950s, sci-fi nonsense when the robots can’t recognise the women as the same race as the men. However, the serial does have some serious points to make on the subject of female equality; we learn that on Luxor, all male children are allowed, but only physically perfect females may be permitted, those deemed imperfect being killed as babies. It’s a horrific concept, and one worryingly close to some
of today’s societies’ treatment of women.
Taking the storyline itself, it’s a tried and tested formula that wasn’t exactly original at the time, let alone now. It works along the familiar lines of many Hartnell serials: the TARDIS
lands somewhere, the travellers leave the Ship, can’t get back to it, end up I a confrontation with the natives, become separated and eventually reunite and return to the ship to escape.
I doubt I’m spoiling any plot points there. However, the serial is written in an entertaining,
and surprisingly funny way, with some cracking dialogue from the regulars and guests.
Starting with The Cannibal Flower (Luxor has some florid and evocative episode titles, typical of the early Hartnell serials), the TARDIS lands on a planetoid, drawn there by a mysterious signal. Something on this world drains the Ship of its power, and the travellers are forced to enter the mysterious city to find a way of putting this right. There, they find a large and sumptuous meal, and proceed to gorge themselves, in the same daft and gullible way that they did in The Keys of Marinus episode, The Velvet Web. In short order they are confronted by the planetoid’s robotic keepers, the Derivitrons (one can only imagine what Raymond Cusick would have designed for them had he not been given the Daleks instead).
They are taken to the Perfect One,
and advanced android created by
the Derivitrons in accordance with
their own creators’ designs. The situation becomes clear – the Der-
ivitrons believe the travellers to be
the Masters of Luxor, the race they
were built to serve. Luxor, a planet with a whopping (and rather unbelievable) 700 satellites, exists in the centre of this galaxy; this world we’ve landed on is one of them.
The Perfect One reveals a great deal of Luxor’s history, including how the Derivitrons were created by Tabon, a scientist who experimented on his own people. We’re left in no doubt
as to how immoral and horrible said experimentation was, but the Perfect One wishes to improve himself by continuing his designer’s work (obviously, he’s not quite perfect enough). He proceeds to drain off Susan and Barbara’s life force in a rather harrowing scene, with
the intention of combining human and mechanical attributes to attain true perfection. Locked up, Ian and the Doctor escape to find Tabon himself, and then revive him form suspended animation. The scientist is now repentant, and a showdown between creator and creation ensues…
Altogether, although some of the themes are a little old-fashioned, the story is a gripping one. I’d recommend The Masters of Luxor to any fan of the Hartnell years, providing, of course, that you can find a copy for under fifty quid.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2008
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
'Doctor Who' and 'Torchwood' images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.
'Doctor Who' and 'Torchwood' are copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.