The Seeds of Doom

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085 – The Seeds of Doom
Doctor Who serial
Directed byDouglas Camfield
Written byRobert Banks Stewart
Script editorRobert Holmes
Produced byPhilip Hinchcliffe
Executive producer(s)None
Music byGeoffrey Burgon
Production code4L
SeriesSeason 13
Running time6 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast31 January 1976 (1976-01-31)
Last broadcast6 March 1976 (1976-03-06)
← Preceded by
The Brain of Morbius
Followed by →
The Masque of Mandragora
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

The Seeds of Doom is the sixth and final serial of the 13th season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts on BBC1 from 31 January to 6 March 1976.

In the serial, the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) agrees to go on one final mission in his role as UNIT's scientific advisor to investigate a mysterious pod found in the Antarctic. However, the crazed millionaire and plant collector Harrison Chase (Tony Beckley) is also interested, and has sent his violent henchman Scorby (John Challis) and the botanist Arnold Keeler (Mark Jones) to acquire the malignant alien plant for his personal collection.


In Antarctica, British scientists Charles Winlett and Derek Moberley discover a pod buried in the permafrost and take it back to their camp. John Stevenson, the base botanist, identifies it as vegetable-based and estimates it has been buried in the ice for twenty thousand years.

In London, Richard Dunbar of the World Ecology Bureau shows the Fourth Doctor photographs of the pod at the urging of his superior, Sir Colin Thackeray. The Doctor believes it to be extraterrestrial. He tells Dunbar to tell the expedition not to touch it until he arrives.

Back at the base, Stevenson discovers that the pod is growing larger and he believes it is absorbing ultraviolet radiation. In England, Dunbar visits the estate of millionaire Harrison Chase, who considers it his mission to protect the plant life of Mother Earth. Dunbar gives Chase the location of the pod. Chase sends his men, Scorby and Keeler, to retrieve it.

At the base, the pod opens and stings Winlett. When Stevenson and Moberley find him, Winlett's face is covered with green hives. The Doctor and Sarah arrive and find that Winlett's face and body are rapidly becoming covered with green fungus. Outside the base, the Doctor uncovers another pod and notes that they travel in pairs. Winlett's blood is found to contain no blood platelets, but instead has schizophytes – microscopic organisms akin to plant bacteria. The Doctor tells Sarah that Winlett is turning into a Krynoid, a galactic weed that settles on planets and eats the animal life. Scorby and Keeler arrive, claiming that their private plane got lost.

Moberley is killed by Winlett. Transformed into a Krynoid, Winlett flees the base and shelters in the outside generator hut. Scorby and Keeler steal the remaining pod then escape in their plane. The Doctor and the others are attacked by the Krynoid, which kills Stevenson. The Doctor and Sarah flee as a bomb set by Scorby and Keeler destroys the area. The Doctor and Sarah are picked up by a team from South Bend, while Scorby and Keeler return to Chase in England with the second pod. Dunbar warns Chase that the Doctor and Sarah are still alive and are scheduled to meet with him and Sir Colin in two hours.

At the meeting, the Doctor and Sarah describe the theft of the pod. He tells Dunbar to arrange for him to go to the Botanic Institute. As they leave a driver meets them. However, the limousine stops in the countryside, and the driver orders them out at gunpoint. The Doctor jumps the driver and punches him out. The Doctor and Sarah search the car and find a painting by Amelia Ducat, a flower artist. When they visit her, Ducat tells them that the owner of the painting is Harrison Chase, who never paid her for it.

Chase orders Keeler to inject the pod with fixed nitrogen. When the Doctor and Sarah try to sneak into the mansion, they are captured and brought before Chase, who decides to show them around the mansion and his plant laboratory before he executes them. When Scorby escorts the Doctor and Sarah into the gardens to kill them, they overpower him. Sarah escapes but is captured again. The Doctor rescues her and in the confusion, a frond from the pod stings Keeler's arm. Keeler soon begins to transform.

When the Doctor returns to the laboratory, he is captured and taken to the compost room, where Scorby activates the crusher. Sarah escapes back to the house, attracts Ducat's attention and asks him to take a message to Sir Colin. Outside, Ducat enters a car with Sir Colin and Dunbar inside and tells them what Sarah said. Dunbar, realising he has made a terrible mistake, says he will get the Doctor. He tells Sir Colin that, if he does not return in half an hour, to return to London and call UNIT.

Sarah turns off the crusher in time to save the Doctor. Hargreaves finds that Keeler has almost completed his transformation and runs in a panic as the creature frees itself. In the mansion, Dunbar pleads with Chase to abandon the experiment as Hargreaves reports Keeler's transformation to Chase. Dunbar goes to get help and is pursued by Scorby.

The Doctor realises that Keeler is missing, and goes with Sarah to search for the Krynoid. Dunbar runs into the monster and is killed. His screams attract the attention of Scorby, the guards and the Doctor and Sarah. They escape to a cottage and barricade themselves in. The Krynoid speaks using Keeler's voice, demanding that the Doctor join it and it will spare the others. Scorby throws a Molotov cocktail at the Krynoid, allowing the Doctor to escape. Chase makes his way through the grounds and confronts the Krynoid. It notices him and he approaches, taking photographs.

The Doctor arrives at the Bureau, where UNIT Major Beresford warns he can't do anything without evidence. The Doctor shows reports of people near Chase's estates being killed by plants. He then calls Sarah and tells them Beresford is preparing to attack the Krynoid with a laser gun, but the Krynoid cuts the phone wires. Chase arrives and tells them that it's the plants' world, and humans are parasites. He goes to the manor to develop his photographs then begins speaking to the plants in his greenhouse.

Scorby, Sarah, and Hargreaves confront Chase, and he speaks of how the world will be made perfect. Sarah notices that the plants are closing in on them. The Doctor and a UNIT soldier drive onto the grounds while the plants overwhelm Sarah and the others and start to strangle them.

The Doctor and UNIT Sgt. Henderson arrive with chemical plant-killer. They dispose of the plants, saving Scorby and Sarah, but Hargreaves is killed. Chase runs away, and the Doctor and the others go into the lab and start removing the plants. Once they're outside, Chase locks the door behind them and they watch as the now enormous Krynoid towers over them. UNIT soldiers arrive and open fire with their laser gun, distracting the Krynoid so that the Doctor and his group can get to another door.

After they leave, Chase slips back into the laboratory and destroys the loudspeaker system. The others return to the laboratory, and the Krynoid tries to break in. Chase puts Henderson in the compost machine and activates it, killing him.

The Doctor works to repair the loudspeaker system as the Krynoid renews its attack, and Scorby panics and runs. He makes his way across a pond, but the plants grab and pull him underwater, drowning him.

The Doctor and Sarah realise that Henderson is gone, and Sarah goes to look for him. She makes her way to the compost machine room, and Chase confronts her, telling her he's become part of the plant world thanks to the Krynoid. Chase plans to support the Krynoid and refers to humanity as parasites, then attacks Sarah and knocks her unconscious.

Beresford contacts the Doctor, who warns they have 15 minutes until the Krynoid germinates, spreading its seeds across England. The Doctor tells them to launch an air strike before it's too late.

Chase has tied up Sarah and starts feeding her into the compost machine. The Doctor arrives and shuts it off. In the ensuing struggle, Sarah is saved, but Chase is pulled into the machine.

The RAF launches a sighting run as Beresford and Sir Colin look for the Doctor. Sarah and the Doctor cannot get out through the plant life covering the house, but the Doctor rigs a steam pipe and they blast their way out. They make their way through the hostile plant life and take refuge as the RAF opens fire and destroys the Krynoid and the mansion.

Outside references[edit]

Scorby quotes Voltaire's line "when it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion", but the Doctor seems to attribute it to Franklin Pierce Adams.[1]


Location filming took place at Athelhampton House in Dorset
BBC Television Centre in London was used as the World Ecology Bureau


The serial was written by established television writer Robert Banks Stewart, who was influenced in the writing of this ecological tale of rampant flora by his home abutting Kew Gardens as well as his familial connection to botanist Joseph Banks. The Doctor's dialogue with Amelia Ducat about the car boot and model is an homage to Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.[2]


Location shooting took place at Athelhampton Hall in Dorset for the scenes at Harrison Chase's estate, while the Antarctica scenes were recorded in a quarry in Buckland, Surrey. BBC Television Centre in White City, London served as the location for the World Ecology Centre.[3]

This is the third of four serials of the programme to have all of its exterior location scenes shot on Outside Broadcast (OB) videotape rather than film before the official switchover in 1986; the previous two were Robot (1974) and The Sontaran Experiment (1975), and later The Stones of Blood (1978). On 7 December 1975, whilst location recording the closing scene outside the TARDIS at Buckland, the TARDIS prop collapsed on Elisabeth Sladen; it was the original prop used since 1963.[citation needed]

After a long association with Doctor Who, this was the last story to be directed by Douglas Camfield.[4]

Casting notes[edit]

None of the established UNIT characters are seen in this story (this would be the last regular appearance of the organisation), as Nicholas Courtney was unavailable to reprise the role of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.[5]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [6]
1"Part One"24:1031 January 1976 (1976-01-31)11.4
2"Part Two"24:097 February 1976 (1976-02-07)11.4
3"Part Three"24:5114 February 1976 (1976-02-14)10.3
4"Part Four"24:2621 February 1976 (1976-02-21)11.1
5"Part Five"25:0628 February 1976 (1976-02-28)9.9
6"Part Six"21:516 March 1976 (1976-03-06)11.5

The Seeds of Doom was one of the Doctor Who serials which drew criticism from Mary Whitehouse for violent imagery. She wrote, "Strangulation – by hand, by claw, by obscene vegetable matter – is the latest gimmick, sufficiently close up so they get the point. And just for a little variety show the children how to make a Molotov Cocktail."[7]

In The Discontinuity Guide, Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping described the serial as "an Avengers episode in disguise" and called it "another gem, and one much benefitting from an excellent performance from Tony Beckley as Harrison Chase".[8] In The Television Companion (1998), David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker praised how the story was split between two settings and the monster in general, though they felt some aspects of the Krynoid were "rubbish". They wrote that the only real disappointment was UNIT, which contained none of the old characters and as a result "[came] across as a faceless and characterless bunch whose sole function in the story is to resolve the situation".[9]

In 2010, Mark Braxton of Radio Times awarded it five stars out of five, describing The Seeds of Doom as "a rich, classy serving, with plenty of meat accompanying the vegetables" and arguing that "the archive-raiding of the Holmes/Hinchcliffe era reaches its zenith here." He praised Baker, the guest actors and their characters. However, he acknowledged that it was "an abnormally violent outing" and believed that the plot contained a "giant crevasse" in that "it takes a ridiculous amount of time for the Doctor et al to know how to tackle the Keeler-Krynoid, having seemingly forgotten that the Winlett-Krynoid was killed by an explosion".[10] The A.V. Club reviewer Christopher Bahn said that the serial was "one of the greats" of the era, particularly praising the pacing and Baker's performance.[11]

DVD Talk's Ian Jane gave The Seeds of Doom four out of five stars, calling the script "a good one".[12] Ian Berriman of SFX gave the story five out of five stars, writing, "Often bleakly grotesque, blessed with an eerie, mournful score and shot with real brio, this is a rare Who six-parter that you can consume in one sitting, with nary a moment of boredom." He also was positive towards the performances of Beckley and Baker.[13] In 2018, The Daily Telegraph ranked The Seeds of Doom at number 14 in "the 56 greatest stories and episodes", arguing that it was "probably the high-water mark of the series as an action adventure programme" and "the closest it ever got to a Bond movie", with an "interesting concept, good direction, memorable performances, action and adventure".[4]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom
AuthorPhilip Hinchcliffe
Cover artistChris Achilleos
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
17 February 1977

A novelisation of this serial, written by Philip Hinchcliffe, was published by Target Books in February 1977. A slightly "Americanized" version of Hinchcliffe's novel was released as #10 in the Pinnacle Books series in March 1980 with a foreword by Harlan Ellison and a cover illustration by David Mann.[citation needed] An audiobook of the Target novelisation was released on 5 September 2019 by BBC Audio, read by Michael Kilgarriff.

Home media[edit]

The Seeds of Doom was released on a double VHS in 1994 in the United Kingdom. In North America it was released as a single VHS. The story was released on DVD on 25 October 2010 in the United Kingdom,[13] and on 8 March 2011 in the United States.[12] Music from this serial was released on the CD Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 120 on 7 August 2013.


Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons
Soundtrack album by
Geoffrey Burgon
Released24 January 2000
LabelBBC Music
ProducerMark Ayres
Doctor Who soundtrack chronology
Doctor Who: Original Soundtrack Recording
Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons
Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 1: The Early Years 1963–1969

Geoffrey Burgon's music for his Doctor Who serials Terror of the Zygons and The Seeds of Doom were released on CD by BBC Music on 24 January 2000. The CD was sourced from the composer's own copies of the score, recorded at a low speed, resulting in lower fidelity.[14][15]

Track listing[edit]

All music is composed by Geoffrey Burgon, unless otherwise noted.

1."Doctor Who Opening Title Theme" (Ron Grainer, realised by Delia Derbyshire)various0:32
2."The Destruction of Charlie Rig"Terror of the Zygons0:41
3."A Landing in Scotland"Terror of the Zygons1:22
4."Murder and Mystery on Tulloch Moor"Terror of the Zygons3:28
5."Wreckage"Terror of the Zygons1:18
6."The Zygons Attack"Terror of the Zygons0:51
7."Decompression"Terror of the Zygons1:09
8."The Zygons' Ultimate Weapon"Terror of the Zygons1:24
9."Trance"Terror of the Zygons0:50
10."False Harry"Terror of the Zygons3:59
11."Monster on the Moor"Terror of the Zygons3:27
12."Death at the Inn"/"Hunt for a Zygon"Terror of the Zygons2:18
13."The Secret of Forgill Castle"Terror of the Zygons1:44
14."Ascent and Descent"Terror of the Zygons1:28
15."A Call from the Prime Minister"Terror of the Zygons0:26
16."To London"/"Death of Broton"Terror of the Zygons2:55
17."The Monster Goes Home"Terror of the Zygons1:10
18."Return Ticket"Terror of the Zygons0:23
19."Antarctica: The First pod"The Seeds of Doom2:20
20."It's Growing!"The Seeds of Doom1:02
21."Harrison Chase"The Seeds of Doom0:42
22."The Pod Opens"The Seeds of Doom1:12
23."The Galactic Weed"The Seeds of Doom2:00
24."The Creature Attacks"The Seeds of Doom0:39
25."A Plan for Murder"/"Hunt in the Snow"The Seeds of Doom2:47
26."Sabotage"The Seeds of Doom1:40
27."Chase Receives the Second Pod"The Seeds of Doom1:08
28."The Chauffeur Takes a Detour"The Seeds of Doom1:28
29."A Visit to Harrison Chase"The Seeds of Doom2:11
30."The Hymn of the Plants"/"Floriana Requiem"The Seeds of Doom1:22
31."Escape and Recapture"The Seeds of Doom2:37
32."The Second Pod Bursts"The Seeds of Doom0:51
33."Keeler's Transformation Begins"The Seeds of Doom0:56
34."The Composter"The Seeds of Doom1:05
35."The Nurturing of Keeler"The Seeds of Doom4:33
36."Get Dunbar!"/"Krynoid on the Loose"The Seeds of Doom2:54
37."Amelia Ducat's Theme"The Seeds of Doom0:45
38."Molotov Cocktail"The Seeds of Doom1:26
39."The Plants Must Win"The Seeds of Doom2:28
40."The Plants Attack"The Seeds of Doom2:54
41."Laser Fire"The Seeds of Doom1:26
42."Trapped"The Seeds of Doom2:13
43."The Final Assault"The Seeds of Doom3:51
44."Doctor Who Closing Title Theme" (Ron Grainer realised by Delia Derbyshire)various0:55
Total length:76:50


  1. ^ "BBC – Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – The Seeds of Doom – Details". Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  2. ^ Cornell, Paul, Martin Day and Keith Topping, Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide, Virgin Books, 1995, pp. 191–192.
  3. ^ Campbell, Mark (11 November 2011). "85. The Seed of Doom". Doctor Who The Episode Guide. Oldcastle Books. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-84243-660-8. Archived from the original on 29 July 2023. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Doctor Who: the 56 greatest stories and episodes, ranked". The Daily Telegraph. 3 June 2018. Archived from the original on 5 June 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  5. ^ Commentary on Seeds of Doom DVD
  6. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  7. ^ The full quote is in Michael Tracey and David Morrison Whitehouse, London & Basingstoke, 1979, p.85
  8. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Seeds of Doom". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  9. ^ Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 25 December 2019.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Braxton, Mark (7 August 2010). "Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 29 July 2023. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  11. ^ Bahn, Christopher (16 September 2012). "The Seeds of Doom". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  12. ^ a b Jane, Ian (17 March 2011). "Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom". Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  13. ^ a b Berriman, Ian (22 October 2010). "DVD Review Doctor Who – The Seeds of Doom". Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  14. ^ Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons (CD Booklet). BBC Music. 2000. WMSF 6020-2.
  15. ^ "Millennium Effect". Retrieved 5 October 2008.

External links[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]