Doctor Who – The Pirate Planet

The Key to Time – Story 2

This story was written by Douglas Adams, and it shows. This is, of course, a Good Thing. It was written at much the same time as the first radio series of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and observant viewers may spot some similar gags. But a good Doug Adams gag is a good Doug Adams gag, and recycling is a good thing, isn’t it?

Anyway, the detector leads the Doctor and Romana to the planet Calufrax, but when they get there, something is wrong. For a start, they aren’t on Calufrax at all, but a much more unsavoury place called Zanak, which is apparently run by a delightfully bonkers pirate captain, complete with vicious robot parrot on his shoulder.

It seems that Zanak is teleported through space, and materialises around other planets. Once a planet is surrounded, all its usable resources are mined and its remains are compressed into a kind of trophy. The Doctor doesn’t really approve of that kind of thing, what with the planets being inhabited and all that.

K9 gets to fight with the robot parrot, the Doctor gets to walk the plank, and there’s as much lunacy as you might hope for from a Douglas Adams script. Great fun, and it’s a personal favourite.

The Doctor and Romana manage to stop the Captain just in time to save the Earth from being the next planet to be absorbed, and find the second segment of the Key – it was the husk of Calufrax, as it happens. And off they go to find the next part.

Extras include a documentary on the making of the story, which is well worth watching as it includes an archive interview with Douglas Adams. There are also some deleted scenes and out-takes, the usual production subtitles and much more.

Read my comments on the rest of the Key to Time season