Chapter 11. Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (1975)

Synopsis: Alien delegates assemble on the eve of the planet Peladon’s acceptance into a galactic federation. King Peladon balances the superstition of his people and the promises of advancement, but his High Priest, Hepesh, wishes to preserve the Old Ways. The old priest plots to sabotage the King’s ambitions with help from an alien with selfish plans of their own. As the Doctor becomes entwined in the political future of this primitive planet, King Peladon of Peladon makes a proposal to Jo – an allegiance bonded in marriage…

Chapter Titles

  • 1. The Deadly Guardian
  • 2. Into the Chasm
  • 3. An Enemy from the Past
  • 4. The Doctor Must Die
  • 5. The Attack on Arcturus
  • 6. The Temple of Aggedor
  • 7. Escape to Danger
  • 8. Trial by Combat
  • 9. A Conspiracy of Terror
  • 10. The Battle for the Palace
  • 11. The King’s Avenger

Background: Bryan Hayles adapts his own 1972 scripts. 

Notes: King Peladon’s mother is named (Ellua) and she may have had a passing resemblance to Jo. Alpha Centauri changes colour, like a cuttlefish, to reflect moods. There are a few extra scenes, such as a chat between the Doctor and Ssorg, and another between Jo and Grun, just before the duel. Peladon saves Jo’s life by making sure Jo is not overheard by Hepesh when she criticises him about the Doctor’s trial (Hepesh would certainly call for Jo’s death too) and later, before a statue of Aggedor, Peladon vows to rid his land of all iconography of the beast if the Doctor is killed in the duel.The Doctor is specific about his encounters with the Ice Warriors, telling Jo he’s ‘met them twice so far’.

Cover & Illustrations: The first cover was again by Chris Achileos, a nice montage of the Doctor, Alpha, Aggedor (with smoking nostrils) and Ssorg. An illustration by Bill Donohoe solely for a 1981 hardback edition uses photo references from The Monster of Peladon for another Ice Warrior, Alpha and Aggedor group shot. Alister Pearson’s 1992 reprint cover shows the Doctor in weirdly beautiful blue-red lighting, the citadel, Arcturus, Ssorg and Aggedor. Alan Willow provides internal illustration again and it’s taken me way too long to realise that he wouldn’t have had access to the tapes, only of selected publicity photos, which is why the likenesses of the guest cast in these books are often so unlike their TV counterparts (here, King Peladon looks suspiciously like Christopher Lee!). Willow’s Aggedor is more monstrous and huge than on screen and the arena for the duel between the Doctor and Grun looks like a traditional medieval pageant.

Final Analysis: Bryan Hayles’ first novelisation and the ‘Escape to Danger’ chapter title makes its first appearance in a Target original (though we’ve been close a few times). This is largely a straightforward summary of the TV episode with just a few deviations and elaborations (noted above), but what he does change is for the benefit of the characters, in particular the Martians and Alpha Centauri.

5 thoughts on “Chapter 11. Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon (1975)

  1. I have this one! Hurrah. I can’t remember when I saw this story. It must’ve been repeated when I was wee as I remember the TARDIS falling. Again, until the VHS came out or I recorded from UK Gold, this was the way to “see” it. Many happy childhood memories

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  2. I took home the Curse of Peladon novelisation from my primary school’s spinner rack library in 1986; although Brian Hayles’s work is not generally looked upon with much fondness, this book truly sparked my love of reading and deepened the one I already had for Doctor Who.
    The description of the TARDIS falling off the cliff and the Doctor reassuring Jo that it was indestructible made a huge impression on me and has stuck with me ever since. The novelisations didn’t simply enable people to encounter stories they otherwise couldn’t have at the time but they presented a deeper and different way to experience the times and places of Doctor Who.
    As difficult as it may be for the tiresome hardened views of the present with its visual/aural above all else, the novelisations didn’t and DON’T represent a lack but an addition. Steven Moffat’s Day of the Doctor novelisation is a great example of a modern addition (yes, there’s no Paul McGann – better in five minutes than some Doctors over rather longer – or John Hurt but it still provides something different and EXTRA and in some cases an improvement. The only real lack is the punch of the “Who knows? WHO knows, eh!” for obvious reasons, and the absence Jenna Coleman as Clara as she is too good to be accurately represented in words. In my opinion!)

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