‘The Keeper of Traken’ (TV)

the keeper of traken new beginnings


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Trakenites – A New Beginning For ‘Doctor Who’

I was really excited when I first heard about the ‘New Beginnings’ DVD box set!

Back in March 2007, I was keen to watch the closing stories of Tom Baker’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ as well as the beginning of Peter Davison’s. I’d seen ‘The Beginning’ box set with William Hartnell’s Doctor in November 2006. With this box set called ‘New Beginnings’, it sent a tingle down my spine.

After seeing all three stories, I must say they have been the most enjoyable viewing experience of my life. ‘The Keeper of Traken’; ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’ are three excellent stories. With DVD special features to tell the ‘behind-the-scenes’ story, it was worth seeing all three TV tales in one go.

the keeper of traken1

The DVD box set also features the first three stories to introduce new ‘Doctor Who’ companion, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa of Traken. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Sarah at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions and I’m very lucky to be her friend. This box set holds a fond place in my heart as a ‘Doctor Who’ fan.

I’ve had the DVD covers of ‘The Keeper of Traken’; ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Acceptable in the 80s’ convention in Chiswick, London, October 2011. I’ve also had a glamour photo of Sarah Sutton/Nyssa from ‘The Keeper of Traken’, signed by Sarah at the ‘celebrate #50 – The Peter Davison Years’ convention in Chiswick, London, April 2013.

Back then in 2007, I had no idea that I would be falling for Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’ many years later. I was pretty uninitiated into the fandom of ‘Doctor Who’ at the time with the classic series. This DVD box set is truly the beginnings of a wonderful ‘Doctor Who’ companion and a lovely lady playing her.

I’m very fond of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ as is Sarah. When I first saw this story, I was immediately captivated. It’s so well-written by Johnny Byrne, who delivers a captivating and engaging adventure.

When I chat to Sarah about this story at conventions, she says it’s one of her favourites. She loved the sets and costumes of the story. The costume she wore in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is her favourite!

In the story, the Fourth Doctor and Adric work well together. Tom Baker’s Doctor is at his heroic best here and seems to be enjoying himself, especially since this happens to be his penultimate TV story.

Adric is well served as he gets to use his mathematical skills; picks a lock; does a fuller analysis and defeats the Melkur. Matthew Waterhouse likes this tale too, as he considers it one of his favourites.

Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is the highlight for me in this story. Sarah auditioned for one story. But after impressing director John Black and producer John Nathan-Turner, Nyssa soon returned as a regular.

Nyssa is the daughter of Traken consul, Tremas. She meets the Doctor and Adric when they rescue Traken. I so loved it when Nyssa helps Adric and when she rescues her father, Adric and the Doctor.

the keeper of traken1

Anthony Ainley guest stars as Tremas, Nyssa’s father. He’s a compassionate man who loves his daughter and becomes the Doctor’s ally. I liked Tremas’ story and his scenes with Nyssa were sweet.

The villain is the Melkur; an impressively scary statue. He stands about the gardens of Traken and uses Nyssa’s stepmother, Kassia, to take control before sitting into the Keeper’s chair on the planet.

It took me by surprise when it turned out it was Geoffrey Beevers as the Master and the Melkur was his TARDIS. This is the decrepit Master from ‘The Deadly Assassin’. Geoffrey plays him very superbly.

The guest cast are great in this. There’s Denis Carey as the Keeper; Shelia Ruskin as Kassia, Nyssa’s stepmother; John Woodnutt as Seron; Margot Van der Burgh as Katura and Robin Soans as Luvic.

The tale’s climax is sad as Tremas gets taken over and he becomes the Master before leaving Traken. I found it so gut-wrenching when Nyssa calls for her father and the story ends on a scary cliff-hanger.

‘The Keeper of Traken’ DVD is dedicated to the memory of Anthony Ainley, who sadly died in 2004.

the keeper of traken

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a lovely ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Sarah Sutton; ‘The Return of the Master’ interview with Geoffrey Beevers; the making-of documentary ‘Being Nice to Each Other’ with cast and crew interviews and some original trailers and continuities for the story.

There’s also a photo gallery of the story; an impressive info-text commentary option to enjoy; a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story and a ‘Doctor Who Annual 1982’ PDF to be accessed on a PC.

There are two audio options including a commentary with Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse, Johnny Byrne and the late Anthony Ainley. I loved it when Matthew ‘marvellously’ introduced Sarah in ‘Part Two’ and I enjoyed the reunions in this. There’s also an isolated music option by Roger Limb.

The Keeper of Traken

‘The Keeper of Traken’ is a brilliant beginning to this trilogy of ‘Doctor Who’ stories and is one of my favourites. It also introduces Nyssa who became my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion in the series.

This story is beautifully well-written by Johnny Byrne and it’s well-directed by John Black. There are some impressive sets and costumes that make ‘The Keeper of Traken’ very compelling and engaging.

‘The Keeper of Traken’ rating – 10/10

Doctor Who - The Keeper of Traken by Terrance Dicks - Novelisation  2KeeperTraken


Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Book of Traken

This book, ‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’, was a pleasure and a treat to read!

I purchased this Target novelization at the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention in Swansea, September 2010. ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is one of my favourites, featuring the debut of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion Nyssa. I was so keen to read this book, which I did on holiday in York, August 2011.

I’ve had the book, ‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’, signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ event in the National Space Centre, Leicester, January 2016. Sarah signed the book on Nyssa’s 35th anniversary in ‘Doctor Who’, which amazed her when I told her so.

Just so you are aware, this is what the story’s about. The Doctor and Adric are visited by the Keeper of Traken who enters into the TARDIS. They summoned to the aid of Traken as an evil force is about to re-awaken on the planet. This is the calcified Melkur statue that landed on Traken many years ago.

The Melkur uses Consul Kassia to get into the Keeper’s chair and to control the Source of Traken. With the help of Tremas (Kassia’s husband) and his daughter Nyssa, the Doctor and Adric seek out to stop the Melkur and save Traken from devastation. It soon turns out the Melkur is more than a mere statue.

The book was originally published in 1982 – a year after the story was transmitted in 1981. I love the front cover of the book’s original 1982 edition. It has a beautiful profile image of Sarah Sutton as Nyssa adorning the cover with the Melkur statue in the background. It’s one of my favourite book covers.

Andrew Skilleter who designed the original book cover has done a brilliant, remarkable job of capturing Sarah Sutton’s likeness as Nyssa from the TV series. Sarah’s beautiful and it’s great to see her as Nyssa on the front cover of a ‘Doctor Who’ book, as she gets to be the centre of attention.

Terrance Dicks wrote the novelisation of ‘The Keeper of Traken’, based on the original TV scripts by writer Johnny Byrne. Terrance is a ‘Doctor Who’ legend, as he script-edited the Jon Pertwee stories in the 1970s and he’s authored many of the Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ during the 70s/80s.

I’m very impressed with how Terrance has managed to novelise Johnny Byrne’s TV scripts. He has stayed true to what was shown on TV. Saying that however, ‘The Keeper of Traken’ is a very slim book since Terrance doesn’t add much to the original story as he usually tends to with previous novelizations.

Apart from adding in a few deleted scenes, Terrance simply writes the novelization according to what Johnny Byrne wrote in the script. This is a shame, as I wanted to explore more of the world of Traken and see the characters enhanced during the story. But this is still a good book and a very nice read.

The book is divided into 12 chapters. There are 3 chapters comprising of one episode out of the four from the TV story. So 3 chapters; times 4; equals 12 chapters altogether. The chapters also have exciting titles to them such as ‘The Voice of Melkur’, ‘The Net’, ‘The Rule of Melkur’ and ‘The Last Resort’.

The dialogue between characters is sharper than it was in the TV story. Terrance rewords some of the original lines to make them sound believable. One moment I liked is when Nyssa encourages her father Tremas to give the Doctor the Source Manipulator plans after he has been persuaded to do so.

I enjoyed revisiting Traken in prose form. Terrance has done well in describing Traken and clarifies some points in the story that might have been clearer to viewers. This includes describing the workings of the Source Manipulator, the keepership of Traken and what rapport with the Keeper actually is.

As I mentioned before, Terrance re-inserts deleted scenes that weren’t featured in the TV story. This includes a scene between Nyssa and Adric at the grove gates; and additional dialogue between the Doctor, Tremas, Luvic and Katura when they’re escorted by Neman after the Melkur is now Keeper.

I like how Terrance writes for the Fourth Doctor and Adric, as he previously wrote for them in ‘State of Decay’ on TV. A nice connection is made to the Doctor and Adric escaping from E-Space. Terrance has kept to the Doctor and Adric’s strengths as Johnny Byrne wrote for them in the original TV story.

Terrance has done well in writing for Nyssa in her first appearance of ‘Doctor Who’. I’ve noticed that Terrance describes Nyssa as a ‘slender brown-haired girl’ a number of times. I like how Terrance describes the interaction between Nyssa and Adric and the relationship between her and her father.

Tremas is well-served in the novel, making him a worthy ally to the Doctor. Tremas is committed to his oath of office as a Consul. He shows a compassionate side and being fond of his family. Tremas is a character that you can easily identify/sympathise with especially with regard to his eventual fate.

I really like how Terrance depicts Kassia in doing the things that Melkur asks her to do out of the love she has for her husband. Kassia doesn’t want Tremas to be the Keeper-Nominate as her marriage to him will be short-lived, so I was able to sympathise and understand as to why she does these things.

The Melkur statue is well depicted in the story, as Terrance describes the silky tones in its voice. He describes the Melkur’s evil nature pretty well, especially when he walks about the grove. Terrance gives clues and hints about who the Melkur is, such as mentioning the creature in his control room.

Soon, the Melkur turns out to be a TARDIS and it is the Master all along. Terrance has fun writing for the Master, as he created the character with Barry Letts in the early 70s with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. He describes the Master once as Roger Delgado before his decayed form from ‘The Deadly Assassin’.

The way that the novel ends is very touching and moving. Terrance does extremely well in describing the horror of Tremas’ demise when he gets takes over by the Master. You feel sorry for Nyssa when she calls out for him at the end. Terrance adds a faint evil laugh which is so effective and disturbing.

I’ve really enjoyed ‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’ by Terrance Dicks. He’s done an amazing job novelising Johnny Byrne’s TV scripts into prose form. I would like there to be an audiobook version of the story released by the BBC soon, as I can read and listen to the story at the same time.

I’d like Sarah Sutton to be the narrator of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ audiobook, since she has a beautiful voice and she’s a very good narrator. Whether she’ll do it, I don’t know. I hope that she will say ‘yes’!

‘Doctor Who and the Keeper of Traken’ rating – 9/10

The previous story

For the Fourth Doctor was

For Adric was

The next story

For the Fourth Doctor is

For Adric is

For Nyssa is

Return to The Fourth Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Adric’s Timeline
Return to Nyssa’s Timeline

4 thoughts on “‘The Keeper of Traken’ (TV)

  1. Blimey signed DVD & novel by Sarah Sutton nice one.

    Excellent review Tim, i like how both reviews give a different take on the story which is a favourite of mine, i remember reading Dicks adaption & getting goosebumps throughout.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank Timelord Simon. I can always rely on you to give positive feedback on my reviews. Glad you enjoyed my reviews on ‘The Keeper of Traken’ DVD and novel. Thank you for sharing your memories of reading the Terrance Dicks novelization of the story. I’m currently re-reading the book at the moment.

    Yes I’m very pleased to have had the DVD cover and novel signed by Sarah Sutton. It was very good to get the book signed for Nyssa’s 35th anniversary on that day at ‘Science of the Time Lords’ when I saw Sarah there.

    Thanks. Tim. 🙂


  3. So, going back to the beginning, after having jumped straight to Divided Loyalties as I was especially curious to read yout thoughts on that, considering my own reaction to it…

    Keeper of Traken: I love it!
    Being generally more of a fantasy fan than a sci fi one (Doctor was really what got me into sci fi, my only previous experience of the genre, at the time, being Star Wars) the setting and general feel of this story really appealed to me. I also really liked the characters, Nyssa among them. They all had distinct personalities and worked well in relation to each other.

    This was also the first Doctor Who story I watched with my grandmother. While she’s not exactly a huge Doctor Who fan, she enjoyes watching the series with me, enough that she’s actually taken the initiative to suggest we should watch it at times. Evidently, she must have liked what she saw in this story ^_^.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Elinor!

    Good to see you’ve gone back to the beginning of Nyssa’s story in ‘The Nyssa Challenge’. That’s alright about ‘Divided Loyalties’. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on that story. Don’t worry about catching up on each Nyssa story I’ve already posted. I’ll enjoy any comments you have on each review I’ve written on each Nyssa story.

    I’m very pleased you love ‘The Keeper of Traken’. So do I. It was very engaging to watch when I saw it, as I said to Sarah Sutton in my interview with her back in August 2015.

    Yes I found the characters worked very well with their distinct personalities and Nyssa’s introduction was very good in this. The story was of course well-written by Johnny Byrne who does well with writing for characters (that includes the supporting characters he creates and also writing for the Fourth Doctor and Adric). The performances of the cast also help to make them easily enjoyable to watch.

    That’s good to hear that your grandmother liked this story when you watched it with her for the first time. I’m glad she enjoys watching the series with you. I’m pleased she liked what she saw in this story.

    Thanks for your comments, Elinor. I’m pleased you enjoyed ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and my review on it. Tim. 🙂


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