As the TARDIS door

 opens onto a barren

 planet, the Doctor

 steps straight into a

 struggle to destroy

 the merciless

 Krotons, the unseen

 rulers of the Gond

 people. Conditioned to

 obey by teaching

 machines, the Gonds

 put up no resistance

 until, with the

 Doctor’s help, they

 discover exactly

 what has been

 happening to their

 best students.


 Battling against the

 Krotons’ vast

 scientific knowledge,

 the Doctor and Zoe

 must stop them

 turning mental power

 into pure energy. With

 a brave band of

 Gonds and Jamie

 prepared to fight to

 the end, it may be

 defeat for the

 Krotons, but

 ultimately it will be

 a test of knowledge

 that only Doctor Who

 can match...


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The Krotons

20TH DECEMBER 1968 - 18TH JANUARY 1969







Robert Holmes’ debut script for Doctor Who is an intriguing and claustrophobic story with some wonderful alien monsters – a textbook Patrick Troughton story, really. Holmes’ story is centred around a group of crystalline-based life forms called Krotons who keep the population of a barren planet in what the Doctor calls “…self-perpetuating slavery”. The Krotons live inside a machine where they rest in suspended animation, and each year the two most intelligent Gonds are taken into this machine where the Krotons feed off their mental energy and then kill them...


The Krotons themselves are wonderfully realised; their simple, building block like structure is very memorable, and their strangely shaped heads conjure up imagery of medieval knights. The only real flaw in their design are the rather feeble pincer-like hands and weapons which must have looked dated even in 1969 – very Flash Gordon! I particularly like how Holmes makes a big deal of the Krotons not being carbon-based creatures; it sets them up as being completely different to Humans (or Gonds), especially when they speak of “exhausting” as opposed to dying. Best of all though, one of them has a very distinctive brummie accent! It makes a wonderful (and really quite comical) change from the screeching tones of the Daleks, or the almost unintelligible Cybermen voices that were used in the preceding story.


However good the Krotons themselves are though, the parts of The Krotons that I like the most are the humorous scenes, particularly those between Zoe and the Doctor. Troughton and Wendy Padbury really steal the show here - there is a brilliant scene where Zoe takes the ‘Teaching Machine Test’ and gets the highest score ever. To prevent her from being taken into the Krotons’ machine alone, the Doctor decides that he too should take the test, but completely screws it up! There is a hilarious moment when Zoe looks shocked at how badly the Doctor is doing and says something like “I can’t understand it. The Doctor’s

almost as clever as I am.” She says it so matter-of-factly it is brilliant – theres nothing like confidence!


The Krotons also marks the first appearance of the HADS – the TARDIS’s “Hostile Action Displacement System” – which is a useful little device, but its dramatic impact in the story is rather wasted. The ‘destruction’ of the TARDIS would have made an excellent cliffhanger,

but instead it is used in the middle of an episode and it is only a few seconds before the Doctor reveals that it is safe and sound.


There are some other elements in this story that I think work really well. The cliffhanger ending to the third episode is very good indeed; the Doctor is caught under some heavy rocks falling from the roof and it transfers onto screen very well - God bless jabolite! Moreover, the Gonds are for the most part an impressive bunch of characters, though for some reason Philip Madoc’s rebellious Eelek reminds me very much of Anthony Head’s character in Big Finish’s Excelis trilogy when they are poles apart! I think it must be the voice…



The Krotons is a clever and amusing story from a man who would go on to become one of Doctor Who’s most respected writers. At just four episodes (the shortest story of the season), it is a refreshingly short and concise story that entertains throughout. It may not be the best of Holmes’ prolific contributions to the series, but it is certainly a long way from being his worst.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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