The Sun Makers
|095 – The Sun Makers|
|Doctor Who serial|
|Script editor||Robert Holmes and Anthony Read (both uncredited)|
|Incidental music composer||Dudley Simpson|
|Length||4 episodes, 25 minutes each|
|Originally broadcast||26 November–17 December 1977|
The Sun Makers is the fourth serial of the 15th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 26 November to 17 December 1977.
The inhabitants of Pluto in the far future are taxed to desperation, not least the functionary Cordo, who is so overwhelmed by the size of his tax bill that he decides to take his own life by jumping from the roof of one of the vast Megropolis tower blocks. He is interrupted by the arrival of the Doctor and Leela from the TARDIS, who save him from his chosen fate, and discover that false suns have been created around Pluto to provide the ability for some of mankind to live. However, the Company which owns the suns and all the buildings on Pluto is using its economic stranglehold over mankind to extort ever growing taxes through an extreme form of usury. The Doctor is concerned at this economic and social structure, where each Megropolis is ruled by a taxation Gatherer, and the entire operation on the planet reports to a malevolent Collector. Some citizens have rejected this social order and choose to live in the dark tunnels of the Undercity. The Doctor, Leela and Cordo venture there and encounter the renegades of the undercity, a vicious bunch of thieves and dropouts led by the brutal Mandrel. He tells the Doctor that he must use a stolen consume-card to obtain money from a cashpoint or else Leela will be killed.
The Gatherer of Megropolis One, Hade, has been alerted to the arrival of the TARDIS. He uses an electronic tracker to follow K9, who has now departed the craft in search of his master. K9 finds the Doctor and Cordo at a cashpoint where the Gatherer sees them and suspects they must be arms dealers. He orders his private guard, the Inner Retinue, to deal with them. When the Doctor tries the stolen card he is overpowered by a cloud of noxious gas and falls unconscious.
When the Doctor awakes he finds himself restrained in a Correction Centre alongside a similarly incarcerated man named Bisham. They are likely to be tortured, but the Doctor is as concerned for Leela, whom Mandrel threatened to kill if the Doctor did not return. Leela has defended herself though, and Cordo, who evaded capture, returns to the Undercity with news of the Doctor’s capture. This serves to increase Leela’s standing with the thieves and the threat over her life diminishes. The Doctor’s lot improves too when he is released for questioning by Gatherer Hade, but Hade is playing a game of double bluff. He has the Doctor released but orders his movements tracked, believing the Doctor will lead him to the heart of a conspiracy against the Company. Not knowing about this change in fortunes, Leela, Cordo and K9 attack the Correction Centre to try and rescue the Doctor. He has left, but they do succeed in freeing Bisham. As they depart the Centre they find all their possible travel routes blocked by Inner Retinue troopers.
Leela leads her friends in an attack on the guards, but she alone is injured in a skirmish and falls from a troop transporter they have commandeered. The Doctor has returned to the Undercity to find a very agitated Mandrel, who refuses to believe he could have been simply released after such a crime. Once more Cordo returns, this time with Bisham and K9, and defuses the situation when he explains what has happened to Leela. He also uses a stolen blaster to force Mandrel to stop threatening the Doctor. He asserts control and persuades the Undercity dwellers to start a revolution against the Company. Their first target will be the main control area where the Company engineers that PCM, a pacifying drug which helps keep the population servile, is being added to the air supply. Mandrel and his gang are also persuaded to start destroying the monitors throughout the Megropolis and to start spreading the message of revolt.
Leela is now presented to the Collector himself, an odious humanoid in a life-support wheelchair who is even more obsessed with money than Gatherer Hade, who fawns all over him. The Collector deduces from interrogating Leela that Hade’s conspiracy theory was unfounded and orders that Leela will be steamed to death in a public execution. He is especially pleased at a public steaming and arranges immediate publicity, unaware of the revolt spreading through the Megropolis. The Doctor heads off to rescue Leela from the steamer, but is running out of time.
The Doctor manages to save Leela in the nick of time, but the microphones set up to relay her death screams instead relay the sound of Mandrel warning the Doctor of how little time he has left to rescue her. The Collector is incensed and even more troubled when the revolution starts spreading even more quickly. Gatherer Hade is thrown to his death from the top of his Megropolis, and his normally dutiful underling, Marn, joins the revolution.
Leela and the Doctor head for the Collector’s Palace, and there he sabotages the computer system. The Collector arrives and is challenged by the Doctor, who discovers the being is a Usurian from the planet Usurius. He is really a seaweedlike being like a sentient poisonous fungus. The Doctor denounces his operation on Pluto, which consumed Mars as well as the population were moved from Earth. Before the Collector can implement a plan to gas the population of Pluto, Cordo and the lead rebels arrive and help the Doctor defeat the remaining members of the Inner Retinue. The Collector checks his computer to find the Doctor’s input has resulted in projected bankruptcy, and the shock of this causes the Collector to revert to his natural state in a compartment at the base of his wheelchair. The Doctor seals him in to be sure the threat is over, and he and Leela depart with K9, leaving Cordo, Mandrel and the others to contemplate recolonising the Earth.
Part Two contains a rare false cliffhanger, where Cordo, Bisham, Leela and K-9 spot an oncoming guard vehicle and Cordo says, "It's no good, they've seen us." The reprise at the beginning of Part Three omits Cordo's remark, and continues with Leela ordering K-9 to hide, allowing it to easily disable the guards.
Leela refers to her tribe, the Sevateem, seen in The Face of Evil. The Company computer correctly guesses the etymology of the name. The Usurians are aware of the Time Lords and Gallifrey, having graded the former as "Grade 3" in their "latest market survey."
|Episode||Broadcast date||Run time||Viewers
|"Part One"||26 November 1977||24:59||8.5|
|"Part Two"||3 December 1977||24:57||9.5|
|"Part Three"||10 December 1977||24:57||8.9|
|"Part Four"||17 December 1977||24:57||8.4|
Michael Keating also appeared in the audio play The Twilight Kingdom as Major Koth and in Year of the Pig as Inspector Chardalot. See also List of guest appearances in Doctor Who. Louise Jameson stated in the DVD commentary of the story and on the commentary for The Talons of Weng-Chiang that The Sun Makers was her favourite serial.
Robert Holmes intended the serial to be a satire of his own experiences with the Inland Revenue services. However, much of the political content was toned down by order of producer Graham Williams, who feared it would be controversial among viewers. Many of the letters and numbers used to denote the labyrinth of corridors in the city, for example P45, allude to well-known tax and Governmental forms, and the abbreviation used to refer to the suppressant gas 'PCM' also stands for Per Calendar Month. The actor who played the Gatherer had deep bushy eyebrows, very reminiscent of the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Denis Healey. However, Holmes presented the villains of the piece as working for a private corporation rather than a government.
Near the end of Part Two, when prompted by Mandrel for a story, the Doctor begins, "Once upon a time, there were three sisters..." mirroring the same story he started telling Sarah Jane Smith near the end of Part Three in The Android Invasion.
The Doctor refers to Galileo Galilei in passing, saying, "Galileo will be pleased." When one of the rebels rhetorically asks the Doctor, "What have we got to lose?" he replies, "Only your claims!" This is a playful paraphrase of the famous slogan derived from the last lines of The Communist Manifesto. K-9 refers to Pluto as "the ninth planet." It was regarded as such at the time the programme was written and broadcast; in 2006, Pluto lost that distinction when it was downgraded to the status of dwarf planet. In this episode, Leela and the Doctor are identified as "terrorists." In real life, Leela's character was partially based on Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled.
|Doctor Who book|
|Doctor Who and the Sunmakers|
|Cover artist||Andrew Skilleter|
|Release date||18 November 1982|
A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in November 1982. Dicks chose to tone down the scene in which revolutionaries cheer as they hurl one of their former oppressors from a roof, reducing the apparent horror so that the rebels concerned feel that their actions have gone "a bit too far".
VHS and DVD releases
- Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Sun Makers". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- "The Sun Makers". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Sun Makers". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- Sullivan, Shannon Patrick. "The Face of Evil". A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Viner, Katharine (2001-10-26). "'I made the ring from a bullet and the pin of a hand grenade'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- "Sun Makers goes Solo". 28 January 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
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