‘The Androids of Tara’ (TV)

Androids_of_tara_uk_dvd The_Key_to_Time_DVD_cvr


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Double Trouble

the androids of tara part 1

‘The Androids of Tara’ by David Fisher is the fourth story of ‘The Key to Time’ series. It is a four-part adventure on 1 disc. This is my third favourite story from ‘The Key to Time’ season. It’s full of swashbuckling proportions; humour and adventure.

This story is based on the classic novel ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ by Anthony Hope. I’ve not read the book or seen the film, but I was instantly captivated into this swashbuckling adventure with androids.

The Doctor and Romana visit the planet Tara, where Romana finds the fourth segment of the Key to Time easily. But they’re soon caught in a power struggle, as Count Grendel intends to be King of Tara.

the androids of tara part 2

The fourth segment of the Key to Time happens to be a stone statue of an animal’s head.

This is a story about double trouble, as androids get used in a medieval-alien setting to duplicate another person. This story focuses on Mary Tamm’s Romana, as Grendel uses her in his evil schemes.

The story is well-directed by Michael Hayes, who makes his first contribution to the series. The sunny atmosphere for Tara fits well to the action-packed plot and the beauty of this medieval world.

the androids of tara part 3

Mary Tamm delivers a wonderful performance as three characters. She plays Romana; Princess Strella and android copies of Romana and Strella. The android Romana is serious and quite creepy.

Tom Baker delivers a superb performance as the Doctor with his eccentric humour and ‘bonkers’ manner. He gets involved with the power struggle of Tara, when he knows how to mend androids.

K-9 (voiced by John Leeson) gets a huge amount in this. As well as tracking Romana at Grendel’s castle, K-9 helps the Doctor when he detects the android Romana and cuts through a wall to escape.


The story’s guest cast includes the great Peter Jeffrey as the villainous Count Grendel. Peter clearly relishes playing Grendel and is great delivering the balance of menace and humour in the character.

There’s Neville Jason as the charming and heroic Prince Reynart. Neville also gets to play an android copy of the Prince that becomes the King, whilst the real Prince gets locked up in a dungeon with Romana.

There’s also Simon Lack as sword-master Zadek and Paul Lavers as swordsman Farrah. Paul as Farrah shamefully cuts up the Doctor’s scarf with his electric-powered sword. Gasp, shock! That’s sacrilege!

androids of tara1

There’s Lois Baxter as Lamia, Grendel’s android-maker and Martin Matthews as Kurster, Grendel’s captain of the guard. There’s also Declan Mulholland as Till and Cyril Shaps (who I’ve seen in an episode of ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’ as well as ‘Doctor Who’) as the Archimandrite.

There’s a marvellous sword-fight between the Doctor and Count Grendell. I was thrilled to see Tom Baker’s Doctor do some sword-fighting and you can see where the Tenth Doctor got his sword-fighting from.

androids of tara2

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a making-of documentary called ‘The Humans of Tara’; the ‘Now and Then: The Androids of Tara’ featurette and the ‘Double Trouble’ documentary.

There’s a photo gallery of the story and a commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and director Michael Hayes. There’s also an info-text commentary option and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story.

There’s a coming soon trailer for ‘Planet of Evil’ with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.

androids of tara3

‘The Androids of Tara’ is a fantastic story in ‘The Key to Time’ season. I enjoyed every minute of it with the Doctor, Romana and K-9 as the heroes and Peter Jeffrey as the villainous Count Grendel.

‘The Androids of Tara’ rating – 10/10

The previous story

For the Fourth Doctor was

  • ‘Tales From The Vault’ (Audio)

For Romana was

  • ‘Tales From The Vault’ (Audio)

For K-9 MkII was

  • ‘Ferril’s Folly’ (Audio)
The next story

For the Fourth Doctor is

For Romana is

For K-9 MkII is

Return to Doctor Who Reviews

2 Responses to ‘The Androids of Tara’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007 says:

    Another of my favourite storirs from this unique season, Peter Jeffrey as the villainous Count Grendel relishes the part & I’m surprised the character didn’t reappear at some point.

    I love that this has that prisoner of zenda feel to it & Tom Baker cracks me up throughout this wonderful adventure.

    As ever Tim you’ve written a lovely review on this classic & the photos between paragraphs are such a great addition.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley says:

    I love ‘The Androids of Tara’! Another great contribution to ‘Doctor Who’ by David Fisher, his second story for the season.

    I love Peter Jeffrey’s performance as Count Grendel. He clearly loved playing a villain in ‘Doctor Who’ and he and Tom Baker bounce off each other very well. I’m sad Count Grendel didn’t return to ‘Doctor Who’ either. It’s sad Count Grendel can’t return since Peter Jefferey’s no longer with us. But who knows? Grendel’s son might make an appearance! 😀

    I’ll have to see a film version of ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ someday. I’ll have to try and get the Ronald Coleman version of it. Tom Baker is fantastic and I love his sword fight with Count Grendal. Mary Tamm’s also great too in many parts as Romana, Princess Strella and the android.

    Very pleased you found my review on ‘The Androids of Tara’ lovely and that the photos still impress you!

    Thanks Simon!

    Tim. 🙂


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