5B. The Pirate Planet

Season Sixteen - 1978/1979 (The Key To Time)

Script Editor: Anthony Read
Writer: Douglas Adams
Produced by: Graham Williams
Director: Pennant Roberts
Designer: Jon Pusey
Incidental Music: Dudley Simpson


The tracer shows that the second segment of the Key to Time lies somewhere on Calufrax. Romana and the Doctor are arguing about the Doctor's piloting. When the Doctor attempts to land there is severe disturbance, and the TARDIS will not materialise. When Romana tries moments later the TARDIS lands smoothly.

But the TARDIS has not materialised on Calufrax, despite the co-ordinates being the same. And the tracer suggests that the segment is close by.

The Doctor finds that the centre of the planet they are on, Zanak, is empty, and that the planet can fly through space under the supposed control of the Captain. The Captain announces to his people that they are enterting a new age of prosperity, and all the stars in the sky change.

The Captain has been materialising Zanak - the Pirate Planet - round other planets and sucking the life force out of them, which was the cause of the disturbance in the beginning. The Doctor finds a compressed form of Calufrax, and transforms it into the second segment of the Key to Time, but not before destroying the trans-mat machinery, and the control centre.

Regular Cast

  • Voice of K-9: John Leeson
  • Romana: Mary Tamm

Guest Cast

  • Captain: Bruce Purchase
  • Mr. Fibuli: Andrew Robertson
  • Kimus: David Warwick
  • Mula: Primi Townsend
  • Mentiad: Bernard Finch
  • Parlin: David Sibley (1,3,4)
  • Guard: Adam Kurakin (1-3)
  • Balaton: Ralph Michael (1-2)
  • Citizen: Clive Bennett (1)
  • Nurse (Queen Xanxia): Rosalind Lloyd (2-4)
  • Mentiads: James Charlton, Tony Hayes (2-4), Ray Knight, Brychan Powell, Clive Rogers, Derek Suthern, Colin Thomas, Jeff Wayne (3-4), Peter Whitaker (2-4)
  • Guards: Garry Dean (3-4), Barry Hayes (1,3), Billy Hughes
  • Queen Xanxia: Vi Delmar (3-4)
  • Technicians: John Cannon (1,2,4), John Moore, Clinton Morris, Gus Roy (1,3,4), Reg Turner (3-4)
  • Extras: Franklyn Arbisman, Bud Brecon, Michael Britton-Jones, John Cadwallader, Les Conrad, Jeff Cryer, Johnny Daulton, Barbara Hampshire, Derek Hunt, Dennis Johns, Michael Kelligan, Kenny Kordell, Julia La Rousse, Ralph Lincoln, Stuart McNeil, Roger Middleton, James Muir, Annette Peters, Bernard Planet, Douglas Roe, Malcolm Ross, Jack Sholomire, Terence Ward, Edward Wyman

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 484. Part One Saturday, September 30, 1978 6:20 PM - 6:45 PM 9.2M 61%
BBC 1 485. Part Two Saturday, October 7, 1978 6:20 PM - 6:45 PM 7.4M
BBC 1 486. Part Three Saturday, October 14, 1978 6:20 PM - 6:45 PM 8.2M 64%
BBC 1 487. Part Four Saturday, October 21, 1978 6:20 PM - 6:45 PM 8.4M 64%

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  • Television Centre Studio 6

Outside Locations

  • Abercrave Caves, Dan-yr-Ogof, Powys, Wales
  • Berkley Power Station, Gloucestershire


There is no novelisation of this programme.