H. The Reign Of Terror

Season One - 1963/1964

Story Editor: David Whitaker
Writer: Dennis Spooner
Directors: Henric Hirsch and John Gorrie (3)
Produced by: Verity Lambert
Designer: Roderick Laing
Incidental Music: Stanley Myers


Since they first burst into the TARDIS the Doctor has been trying to get Ian and Barbara back to London, 1963. The Doctor is certain he has got them home, and the the TARDIS materialises in a clearing on the edge of a forest. The Doctor wants Ian and Barbara to leave quickly so he can be on his way, but Ian persuades asks the Doctor to have a drink with him. In the forest they meet a small boy who tells them they are in France, very close to Paris. The boy runs off before they can determine the year.

The Doctor and his companions go after the boy and find a house in the forest. The house looks deserted, and the Doctor finds an unlocked door. Inside the Doctor and Ian light candles, and the Doctor investigates upstairs whilst Ian, Susan and Barbara investigate downstairs. Barbara finds some passes in a trunk that have been signed by Robespierre, and Ian realises the TARDIS has landed in the French Revolution - known as the Reign of Terror. Susan tells them that this is the Doctor's favourite period in history.

Meanwhile, whilst Ian, Barbara and Susan change into some 18th century clothes they have found, upstairs the Doctor is knocked unconscious. Ian suggests looking for the Doctor, but two men - Rouvray and D'Argenson - burst in with guns. They  say they found the Doctor upstairs. As they start to ask questions about Ian , Barbara and Susan soldiers appear outside the house, and D'Argenson starts to panic. The soldiers surround the house but do not immediately enter, trying to break the nerves of the people inside.

D'Argenson tries to escape through a back door and is caught. Rouvray follows him outside. Some of the soldiers are loyal to Rouvray, but some are not and Rouvray is shot. When the soldiers enter the house they find Ian, Barbara and Susan. Thinking they have got all the people the soldiers take Ian, Barbara and Susan to Paris to face Madame Guillotine, and do not search upstairs where the Doctor is starting to recover. As they leave the soldiers throw torches and the house starts to burn.

In Paris Ian, Barbara and Susan are found guilty of being in the company of wanted traitors and are sentenced to immediate execution, and are told they will be guillotined as soon as it could be arranged, and are taken to the cells, Ian in one and Barbara and Susan in another. Barbara tries to work out a way of escaping from the cell, whilst in his cell Ian is talking to a wounded man, Webster. Webster tells Ian where he can find an Englishman called James Stirling, and to find a man called Jules Renan.

Back at the house the Doctor is rescued by the boy they met earlier, and the boy tells him that his companions have been taken to Paris. The boy wants to the Doctor to go back to his farm, but the Doctor insists on going to Paris.  On the way the Doctor meets a man who is supervising a group of tax dodgers digging up a road. When the Doctor offends the man he demands to see the Doctor's paper. With no identification the Doctor is put to work digging the road. The Doctor manages to create a diversion and picks the man's pockets, drops coins on the ground, then says they have found treasure. When the man starts to dig for treasure the Doctor knocks him unconscious. Seizing the opportunity the tax dodgers escape.

Lemaitre visits the jail when he hears about Webster's death. He asks Ian if Webster spoke to him, but he says he didn't, even though the jailer says otherwise. Lemaitre crosses Ian's name from the execution list. Barbara and Susan are still on the list, and are taken with other prisoners to the guillotine. In the prison when the jailer sends some food into Ian's cell, but leaves the keys in the lock when he is called by Lemaitre.  When the jailer is sleeping Ian is able to escape from captivity.

Whilst Barbara and Susan are being taken through Paris in the back of a horse and cart the horse loses a shoe. When it is taken away two men, Renan and Jean, emerge and shoot at the soldiers and Susan and Barbara escape with them to Renan's home. Renan tells them that after they have eaten and rested they will be smuggled away from France. When Barbara and Susan tell them about the house they found Renan and Jean become concerned. This is an escape route they use, and it looks as though someone has informed the soldiers of this.

In Paris the Doctor finds his way to a tailors where the Doctor trades his own clothes, including his ring, for a set of new clothes and some writing implements and parchment. Creating forged credentials, and dressed in French clothing, the Doctor shouts his way into the prison. The Doctor asks the jailer about three traitors that were brought to the prison earlier: a man, a woman and a young child. The jailer tells the Doctor the women were sent to the guillotine, but they were rescued, and that Ian escaped.  On his way out of the jail the Doctor runs into Lemaitre, and goes with Lemaitre to meet Robespierre. After he leaves the shopkeeper offers the Doctor's ring to the jailer as evidence of a traitor.

In Robespierre's office Lemaitre hands him the list of executions. As the Doctor is posing as a regional deputy from the southern province, and the southern province is up for discussion, Lemaitre says the Doctor can give a first hand account of the province's situation. The Doctor turns the discussion to Paris, and to what Robespierre intends to do with his reign of terror. Lemaitre and the Doctor leave, but Robespierre says he wants to see them both on the following day.

Back at the jail the Doctor tries to leave, but Lemaitre says he cannot disobey an order from Robespierre and asks the jailer to get the Doctor some accommodation for the night, and the Doctor is taken to a soldier's room. As the Doctor is taken to his room Lemaitre is told about the shopkeeper who has information about the Doctor, and the exchange he made earlier.

In Renan's house Susan is becoming ill, probably from something she caught in the jail, and Barbara is not sure how long it will last or what she can do to help. Barbara asks Leon, a friend or Renan and Jean, if he knows someone they can trust to help Susan. As Leon leaves he says he will arrange for a physician for Susan. As Barbara helps Susan back upstairs Renan and Jean enter through a window with an unconscious Ian. When Ian recovers he gives Webster's message to Renan. Renan, though, does not know who James Stirling is, but he suggests that Leaon might and arranges a meeting at a church. When Ian meets Leon he is captured by soldiers, shackled and questioned..

After Renan gets a message that the physician will not come to the house the only solution  is for Barbara to take Susan to him. When the physician realises where Susan picked up her illness he locks them inside a room. and goes to the jail to fetch soldiers to take them back to the jail.  At the jail Susan is locked in a cell whilst Barbara is taken for questioning and out in a room with the Doctor. The Doctor is able to bluff the jailer to let Barbara walk of the jail.

Renan, returning to an empty house, goes to the church and rescues Ian. When they return to the house they are met by Barbara, who tells Ian about meeting the Doctor, and how is posing as a French official.

When the Doctor is caught trying to break Susan out of jail Lemaitre questions him about his clothes and ring that he had exchanged earlier. Lemaitre tells the Doctor that he needs friends he can trust, and that he knew about Ian, Barbara and Susan and has been keeping Susan in the jail so he can ensure the Doctor would not leave Paris. Lemaitre tells the Doctor that if he wants Susan released he must take him to Renan.

At Renan's house Lemaitre tells Ian that he allowed him to escape to ensure his message was delivered, and that he now wants to collect the message as he is James Stirling. Ian delivers the message, and after discussing some of Webster's other mumblings combined with orders given to Lemaitre by Robespierre it is decided that Barbara and Ian should meet Paul Barrass at the Sinking Ship Inn.

At the Inn Barbara poses as a waitress and Ian as a waiter. When a man wearing a sash enters he is directed to a room that Ian and Barbara can listen in on where Barrass is meeting a stranger - General Napoleon Bonaparte. Barrass discusses a plan with Bonaparte to depose and execute Robespierre, allowing Bonaparte to become leader of France.

At the Palace soldiers seize Robespierre and take him to the prison. The Doctor returns to the prison to try to get Susan released, and they leave as Robespierre is brought in. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan return to the forest as Stirling continues to Calais on his way back to England.

Regular Cast

  • Susan Foreman: Carole Ann Ford
  • Barbara Wright: Jacqueline Hill
  • Ian Chesterton: William Russell

Guest Cast

  • Lemaitre/James Stirling: James Cairncross
  • Jailer: Jack Cunningham
  • Jules Renan: Donald Morley
  • Jean: Roy Herrick
  • Leon Colbert: Edward Brayshaw
  • Robespierre: Keith Anderson
  • Paul Barrass: John Law
  • Napoleon Bonaparte: Tony Wall
  • Young Boy: Peter Walker
  • Judge: Howard Charlton (2)
  • Webster: Jeffry Wickham (2)
  • Road Works Overseer: Dallas Cavell (2)
  • Peasant: Denis Cleary (2)
  • Shopkeeper: John Barrard (3-4)
  • Danielle: Caroline Hunt (3-4)
  • Physician: Ronald Pickup (4)
  • Soldier: James Hall (1), Terry Bale (5), Patrick Marley (6)
  • Rouvray: Laidlaw Dalling (1)
  • D'Argenson: Neville Smith (1)
  • Sergeant: Robert Hunter (1)
  • Lieutenant: Ken Lawrence (1)

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 37. A Land Of Fear Saturday, August 8, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 6.9M
BBC 1 38. Guests Of Madame Guillotine Saturday, August 15, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 6.9M
BBC 1 39. A Change Of Identity Saturday, August 22, 1964 5:30 PM - 5:55 PM 6.9M
BBC 1 40. The Tyrant Of France Saturday, August 29, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 6.4M
BBC 1 41. A Bargain Of Necessity Saturday, September 5, 1964 5:30 PM - 5:55 PM 6.9M
BBC 1 42. Prisoners Of Conciergerie Saturday, September 12, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 6.4M


  • Ealing Television Film Studios
  • Lime Grove Studio D

Working Titles

Part 2: Guests of the Guillotine