‘The Pirate Planet’ (TV)

Bbcdvd-thepirate_planet The_Key_to_Time_DVD_cvr


Please feel free to comment on my review.


the pirate planet part 3

‘The Pirate Planet’ by Douglas Adams is the second story of ‘The Key to Time’ series. It is a four-part adventure on 1 disc. This is a wacky, bonkers and mind-boggling story from ‘The Key to Time’ season. This is one of my favourite stories!

This is Douglas Adams’ first contribution to ‘Doctor Who’ before he became script-editor of the series. Douglas is also the author of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and of the ‘Dirk Gently’ novels.

The Doctor; Romana and K9 head for the planet Calufrax to collect the second segment of the Key to Time. But they end up on Zanak and soon come up against the menace of the very loud Pirate Captain.

the pirate planet part 1

Here Douglas delivers a story full of mad ideas and laugh-out-loud humour. I always enjoy Douglas Adams’s stories in ‘Doctor Who’. I love his humour and he does come up with some fantastic ideas.

I liked the ideas in this story about a planet devouring other planets and mining for its minerals. The effects are impressive, including the particle acceleration corridors; the air cars and holo-projection.

This story almost never got made as Graeme MacDonald, the Head of BBC Drama, said this ‘won’t do’. But director Pennant Roberts was determined to make this work and it was very brave of him.

the pirate planet part 2

I really like Tom Baker’s Doctor and Mary Tamm’s Romana. Romana control of the TARDIS and giving out jelly babies to people in the streets and the Doctor getting annoyed were very hilarious to see.

Tom Baker clearly loves Douglas Adams’ lines. I enjoyed watching Tom’s Doctor in this adventure, as he’s so bonkers and funny. That scene where he’s angry with the Pirate Captain was so mesmerizing.

Mary Tamm does well as Romana too. I loved it when she’s not bothered by the guards threatening her or being intimidated by the Pirate Captain. Romana gets to explain things as well as the Doctor.

the pirate planet1

K-9 (voiced by John Leeson) shines here. I liked it when K-9 tries to tell the Doctor that Romana has been arrested but the Doctor doesn’t listen to him. K-9’s fight with the robot parrot was so defining.

Bruce Purchase guest stars as the Pirate Captain. The Captain is funny to watch as he shouts out loud a lot. He insults people and has his own robot parrot. But the Captain’s shouting isn’t what it seems.

The guest cast are all so excellent in this story. There’s also Andrew Robertson as Mr Fibuli; Rosalind Lloyd as the Nurse; David Warwick as Kimus; David Sibley as Pralix and Primi Townsend as Mula.

It turns out that the planet Calufrax happens to be the second segment of the Key to Time. I like how the plot unfolds with what’s with the pirate planet; the Pirate Captain and how the Key is involved.

the pirate planet part 4

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the making-of documentary called ‘Parrot Fashion’ with cast and crew interviews. There’s also some film inserts; deleted scenes & outtakes; there’s a ‘Weird Science’ spoof starring David Graham and Mat Irvine and there are ‘continuities’ of the story.

There are two commentaries on this story. The first is with Bruce Purchase and director Pennant Roberts and the second is with Tom Baker; Mary Tamm and script editor Anthony Read. There’s an info-text commentary option to enjoy; a photo gallery 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.

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‘The Pirate Planet’ quickly became one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories from ‘The Key to Time’ season. It’s funny; it’s bonkers; it got Tom Baker and it has a Pirate Captain who is hilarious to watch.

‘The Pirate Planet’ rating – 10/10

The previous story

For the Fourth Doctor was

  • ‘Tomb of Valdemar’ (Book)

For Romana was

  • ‘Tomb of Valdemar’ (Book)

For K-9 MkII was

  • ‘Tomb of Valdemar’ (Book)
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 Pirate Planet’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007 says:

    Pirate Planet’s bloody bonkers but i love bonkers & this is a cracking tale sparkling with humorous dialogue.

    Tom Baker as the Doctor when he berates the pirate captain still gives me goosebumps & the story has a great twist that i didn’t see coming.

    Did you notice Tom’s lip in this & Ribos is scarred, he had been tormenting a friends dog on one of his weekend Soho pub crawls & the dog bit his lip lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley says:

    Yes ‘Pirate Planet’ is bonkers! I began showing ‘The Key to Time’ season to my best mate Stephen last weekend. He wanted to see ‘Pirate Planet’ immediately after seeing ‘Ribos’. He enjoyed it very much and it’s a great first contribution by Douglas Adams with sparkling, witty dialogue and great humour.

    ‘The Pirate Planet’ inspired me with the writing style I used in ‘The Space Hotel’ didn’t you know? 😀

    Yes that scene where the Doctor angrily shouts at the Pirate Captain was inspired and dramatic to watch. I liked the tension in that scene and it’s something Tom Baker does well when acting in those scenes.

    No I didn’t see the twist coming either in that story. I love that cliff-hanger moment in ‘Part Four’ and the moment when it’s revealed who Queen Xanxia actually is.

    Yes I did notice that Tom’s lip has been scared from his dog-bite. I liked it when he banged his lip on the console to establish he got that scar in the story. I laugh every time I see that moment. There are variations of the dog biting Tom story in the audio commentary for ‘The Pirate Planet’ by Tom Baker and in ‘The Ribos Operation’ making-of documentary.

    I’m looking forward to when the novelization of ‘The Pirate Planet’ will be released by BBC Audio, both in book and on audio. It’ll be very exciting to discover more about this amazing story.

    Many thanks Simon.

    Tim. 🙂


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