G. The Sensorites

Season One - 1963/1964

Story Editor: David Whitaker
Writer: Peter R. Newman
Directors: Mervyn Pinfield (1,2,3,4) and Frank Cox (5,6)
Produced by: Verity Lambert
Designer: Raymond P. Cusick
Incidental Music: Norman Kay


Inside the TARDIS the Doctor can't understand why the TARDIS says it has stopped but it feels as though they are moving. Ian suggests they have landed on something, and Barbara suggests they have landed inside something.

The Doctor tells Susan to open the doors, and they find that the TARDIS has landed inside a spaceship. Everything is silent, and there is a dead man and a dead woman sitting at the controls, with no obvious signs of the cause of death. The Doctor notices that the man and woman's watches have stopped.

As the Doctor is about to return to the TARDIS the man wakes, and asks Ian to get a device from a shelf. The man presses it against his chest and his heart start beating. He asks Barbara to place it against the chest of woman - Carol - and her heart restarts.

The man introduces himself as Captain Maitland. He and Carol have been in a deep sleep during a trip in space from Earth. Ian and Barbara say they are from Earth, but when they mention London Maitland tells them he is from the 28th century. Maitland tells the Doctor and his companions that it is not safe for them and tells them to go.

Maitland tells the Doctor that they are in orbit around a planet they call the Sense-Sphere. The inhabitants, the Sensorites, have a mental hold over the craft and will not let Maitland and his crew leave. They also have some influence over their brains, that puts the people into a deep sleep. Whilst the Sensorites do not appear to be hostile they will not allow Maitland and his crew to leave, but they do occasionally feed them.

Susan suggests that they could take the crew with them, and Carol tells them there is a third crew-member - John - to think of as well. Maitland tells the Doctor the Sensorites could try to stop him leaving as well. When Barbara smells burning she investigates and find the lock, including the opening mechanism, of the TARDIS has been removed.

When the ship starts to shake violently the Doctor helps Maitland to stabilise it, but the ship is heading towards the Sense-Sphere. The Doctor, with Ian's help, steers the ship away from the Sense-Sphere. Maitland asks why he wasn't able to d it, and the Doctor thinks the Sensorites are controlling his mind. preventing him from steering the ship.

When the Doctor asks about the Sensorites Maitlaind tells the Doctor only John, their mineralogist, has. When pressed Maitland says he doesn't want to talk about him.

Susan and Barbara are combing rations and preparing food for everyone. When they need water they go further into the ship to look for some, not realising they are being followed by John. When Ian realises they are missing he tries to follow but finds the door has been locked. Carols takes him and Maitland down a different corridor hoping to get to Susan and Barbara from the other direction.

Inside the locked corridor Susan and Barbara run from John into a small room. John follows them in, then walks past them and back out again, as though he is in a trance. Susan and Barbara are a little taken aback when they later find John on the floor, crying, and asking for their help.

Maitland and Carol are worried about what John might do, but Maitland agrees to help Ian to cut through the door lock to help Susan and Barbara. Carol tells Ian that she and John were going to get married. After being attacked by the Sensorites John's mind had been taken over, and he has become afraid of strangers and could be violent. As Maitland begins to cut through the door they hear a whining noise which usually indicates the coming of the Sensorites. As Ian watches the front window of the ship a Sensorite appears.

John can also sense the Sensorites, and Barbara asks him to unlock the doors. Through his mind the Sensorites are giving orders to John, but he refuses to do what they ask. John tells Barbara that the Sensorites want him to frighten her. Susan tells Barbara that if they both think of the same thing at the same time they may be able to disrupt the mind control of the Sensorites.

Ian and Maitland are able to get to Susan, Barbara and John. They are able to let John rest, and the Doctor realises that Susan's strong mind and lack of fear helped, even though it was a dangerous thing for her to do. After hearing John mumbling something about "avarice" Ian thinks that John has discovered something that the Sensorites don't want people to find, which is why the Sensorites have not let them go.

Looking at some of the graphs that John has produced the Doctor realises what it is John found; Molybdenum. Sensorites on the ship begin to exert their control once again on Maitland and Carol, and Ian and Barbara set off into the ship to look for them. After a short while they find two Sensorites. Ian tells Barbara to go back to the control room to ask Maitland how to lock the doors as he watches the two Sensorites. Maitland is not well, and so Barbara gets John to show her and Ian how to lock the doors. John locks the Sensorites into a room.

The Doctor wants to talk to the Sensorites, but instead, using telepathy, they are able to contact Susan and instead ask her to ask the Doctor if he wants to talk to them. In a trance like state Susan opens the door to the control room and lets the Sensorites in.

The Sensorites tell the Doctor, Ian and Susan that they have been visited by people from Earth once before, and were left with a fearful affliction. This must not happen again, and so they must all go down to the Sense-Sphere where they will be looked after - for the rest of their lives. The Doctor tells them he will fight back, and as the Sensorites retreat to decide what to do the Doctor tells Ian, Susan and Barbara that he has found a weakness in the Sensorites - their eyes. They will find it almost impossible to see in semi-darkness.

The Sensorites use telepathy to talk to Susan again. They tell her she must go down to the surface of the planet otherwise everyone will be killed. To the Doctor's horror she agrees. The Doctor, Ian and Barbara go after the Sensorites and Susan. When Ian turns off the light in the corridor the Sensorites cannot see and become disorientated.

The Sensorites transmit the Doctor's words to their First Elder, and he says that he wants to meet the Doctor. Maitland and Barbara must stay behind as security, but the Doctor, Susan, Ian, Carol and John must travel down to the Sense-Sphere. Whilst they wait for the ship the Doctor asks a Sensorite why they have kidnapped Maitland, Carol and John.

The Sensorite tells him that ten years earlier five humans had arrived, but their minds were closed. The men quarrelled and two left in the ship that exploded in their atmosphere. The Sensorites assumed the other three men were on board, and probably had an argument that led to the explosion, meaning all five were killed. Since that day people on the Sense-Sphere have been dying in greater numbers each day.

On the Sense-Sphere some Sensorites are not happy about the Doctor and the humans coming down to their planet, as the previous contact with humans resulted in a disease. Whilst the First Elder trusts the Doctor and the humans the City Administrator and Second Elder do not; without the First Elder's knowledge the City Administrator has arranged for a dis-integrator to be brought to the city.

The Doctor, Susan, Ian, Carol and John are led through the city on the Sense-Sphere to the Palace of the Elders. Many other Sensorites are wary of them, and the Sensorite with them tells them they are forbidden to talk to the lower castes. John's mind is more open than most, and he can sense good and evil minds.

In the Palace the First Elder tells Carol that John can be restored, but it will take time. John and Carol leave to an area where John can be treated,

At the same time the City Administrator tells an engineer to set up the dis-integrator beam, and when the Doctor and his companions are seated, kill them. As he is about the activate the Second Elder tells them to stop, and takes the dis-integrator's firing key.

The First Elder invites the Doctor to a meeting, with food and water. The First Elder notices that the water the Doctor, Susan and Ian are served is not the best water, and orders a Sensorite to fetch them the Crystal water. Ian is thirsty so drinks some of it anyway. Susan asks about the disease, and the Doctor asks if it attacks the Elders, which it does not. The Doctor asks the First Elder if he could have the lock back if he can succeed with the disease where the Sensorites failed. The First Elder agrees as Ian collapses with symptoms of the disease.

The only thing that Ian has done differently from anyone else is to drink the non-Crystal water. The First Elder tells the Doctor that no-one has lived longer than a third day after contracting the symptoms - which acts as a poison and not a disease.

Inside the treatment room the City Administrator is not please that John is being treated instead of killed. John recognises the City Administrator as the evil mind he detected earlier. When Carol enters the room she mistakes the City Administrator as a scientist, and the City Administrator is shocked she didn't recognise the collar of office. Carol tells him that if it wasn't for their badges of office she wouldn't be able to tell the Sensorites apart - which gives the City Administrator an idea.

The Doctor asks the First Elder for access to his TARDIS so he can treat Ian; at the advice of the Second Elder the First Elder refuses, but does offer the full use of their own laboratory. The Doctor suspects atropine poisoning of the water. The Doctor asks the Sensorites to fetch water samples from all of the city districts. After testing the water he finds a sample from district eight contains atropine poison.

In a separate room the Second Elder is captured, and the City Administrator steals his sash of office, discarding his collar and disguising himself as the Second Elder.

Whilst an antidote is being created the Doctor checks on John and Carol. Carol says John is making progress, but occasionally seems to slip back. John starts to talk about enemies making plots.

A sample of the antidote is delivered to be delivered to Ian. However the City Administrator, testing his disguise, tells the scientist delivering it that he will deliver it. Instead, thinking that Ian is only pretending, he smashes the vial containing the antidote sample.

Elsewhere the Doctor is examining the aqueduct system. The Doctor tells a Sensorite scientist that he intends to go into the aqueduct. The Sensorite tells the Doctor that monsters have been heard, if not seen, in the aqueduct. Two things the Sensorites can't stand: dark and loud noises. The Doctor tells the Sensorite scientist to return whilst he has a look.

In the Palace Susan manages to get hold of some antidote, and Ian recovers. The First Elder demands to know why the scientist did not bring the antidote as ordered. The scientist tells the First Elder that he was with the Doctor. When he tells them about the Doctor Ian and Susan insist on going after him.

Inside the aqueduct the Doctor discovers Atropa belladonna, otherwise known as Deadly Nightshade. He also hears a loud growling. By the time Susan and Ian find him he is unconscious. The Doctor's coat is ruined by scratch marks.

The City Administrator forces the Second Administrator, by threatening his family, to ask the Senior Warrior to fetch the firing key for the dis-integrator. The Second Administrator fights back, and is killed. The City Administrator plots with a Sensorite to blame the death on the Doctor, and together they tell the First Elder. Ian notices that the Sensorite says he saw the Doctor pull the firing key from his coat pocket - the same coat that was destroyed in the aqueduct. The City Administrator uses the situation to paint the Second Elder as the traitor, and the City Administrator is promoted to Second Elder.

As the First Elder discusses the new position with the Second Elder the Doctor, Susan and Ian check on John's progress. He as been almost completely cured, and can barely remember what happened. He knows there was a Sensorite plotting, but can't remember which, only there was something about the way he was dressed. Susan realises it was his collar, and that it is the City Administrator who was their enemy.

The Doctor and Ian talk to the First Elder, and tell him that they intend to go to the aqueduct and find out who is poisoning the supply. As a thank you the First Elder agrees for Barbara to be brought down to the Sense-Sphere. The First Elder lets the Doctor have some weapons and plans for the aqueduct, although no-one realises that both have been tampered with by the Second Elder.

John, Carol and Susan are left in the laboratory. Carol goes back to the Palace to find out where the Doctor and Ian are, and on the way is kidnapped by the Second Elder. He forces her to write a letter to John to say she has gone back up to the ship. He does not know that Barbara has come from the ship and she confirms that Carol never went up to the ship. Once the letter is presented to the First Elder he tells John about the dis-integrator room, and he rescues Carol, re-arresting the scientist who is holding her. The Second Elder is not present.

Inside the aqueduct it doesn't take long for Ian to realise the weapons have been deactivated, and the Doctor to realise the maps have been altered. They proceed cautiously, and Ian sees a figure ahead. He struggles with it, but it runs off. Ian does manage to tear something from its shoulder - an insignia. The Doctor suspected, but this confirms, that it could be a survivor from the original crashed ship. Further along they are surrounded by two more men. They take the Doctor and Ian to the Commander, a third survivor.

The First Elder had been asked by the Doctor not to tell Susan where he and Ian were going, but he does tell them after the incident with Carol. Barbara and John follow them, and Barbara uses a Sensorite telepathic communicator to talk to Susan and to get directions. The find the Doctor and Ian, along with the three survivors. The Doctor tells them the war is over, and reluctantly the Commander of the survivors agrees to go to the surface.

Once outside the aqueduct the survivors are taken into custody. After many years they have gone insane, and really were waging a war with the Sensorites. Maitland agrees to take them back to Earth, and after unmasking the Second Elder as a traitor the lock to the TARDIS is returned to the Doctor.

Regular Cast

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

Guest Cast

  • Captain Maitland: Lorne Cossette
  • Carol Richmond: Ilona Rodgers
  • John: Stephen Dartnell
  • First Elder: Eric Francis
  • Second Elder: Bartlett Mullins
  • City Administrator: Peter Glaze
  • Sensorites: Ken Tyllsen, Joe Grieg
  • Commander: John Bailey
  • Survivors: Martyn Huntley, Giles Phibbs

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 31. Strangers In Space Saturday, June 20, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 7.9M
BBC 1 32. The Unwilling Warriors Saturday, June 27, 1964 5:40 PM - 6:10 PM 6.9M
BBC 1 33. Hidden Danger Saturday, July 11, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 7.4M
BBC 1 34. A Race Against Death Saturday, July 18, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 5.5M
BBC 1 35. Kidnap Saturday, July 25, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 6.9M
BBC 1 36. A Desperate Venture Saturday, August 1, 1964 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM 6.9M


  • Ealing Television Film Studios
  • Lime Grove Studio D


There was a gap of one week between the transmission of 'The Unwilling Warriors' and 'Hidden Danger' due to Grandstand being extended for a cricket Test Match and Wimbledon Tennis.