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"The Green Death" is the fifth story of the tenth season of Doctor Who.


Episode One[]

Episode Two[]

Episode Three[]

Episode Four[]

Episode Five[]

Episode Six[]

Background information[]

Production timeline[]

  • The serial was commissioned on 11 December 1972, with a delivery date of 15 January 1973. Robert Sloman actually delivered the script a day late on the 16th.
  • A read-through of all six episodes of the script by the cast took place on Wednesday 21st March 1973 at the BBC's Acton rehearsal rooms, although all the film material had been recorded by this time. This was attended by writer Robert Sloman, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks. Rehearsals for the first studio block began on Thursday 22nd March at the Acton rehearsal rooms and continued until Sunday 1st April. The first two-day studio block took place on Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd April in Studio TC3 at BBC Television Centre in London. Episode Two was recorded on Tuesday 3rd, although unlike Episode One, it was recorded on a set-by-set basis. Scenes set in the pithead office from Episode Three were also recorded on this day. This second studio day began at 7.30pm and concluded at 10.00pm.
  • After a day off following the first studio recording block, rehearsals for the second studio block began back at the Acton rehearsal rooms from Thursday 5th to Sunday 15th April 1973. The second two-day studio block took place on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th April, again in studio TC3 at BBC TV Centre. Episode Three was recorded on the Monday from 8.00pm to 10.05pm on a set-by-set basis, rather than in scene order.
  • Episode Four was recorded on Tuesday 17th from 7.30pm to 10.00pm on a set-by-set basis, rather than in scene order. The only material not recorded for this episode are the final scenes set in BOSS's computer room. This set was not due to be used until the final studio block, as the scenes from this episode were scheduled to be recorded then.

Story and script[]

  • Interviewed by Doctor Who Magazine in 1999, writer Robert Sloman recalled his inspiration for the story: "In all my scripts for Doctor Who, I tried to address an idea of the moment. "The Green Death" was frequently Greenpeace. The idea that big business is ruining our lives and our planet is old hat now, but at the time, it was new and interesting. I have to say that Barry contributed a lot of that - he was rather more interested in that kind of movement. I'm not an open-toed sandal sort of guy - I like creature comforts. Naturally, I was interested in these issues, as any sane person is. Multinational conglomerates do terrible things to us all. We are run by big business. They tell you what to wear, how and when to feed yourself, and in some parts of the world, if they don't show a decent profit, they don't feed 'em! They're in charge, make no mistake."
  • In the same interview, Sloman explained his reason for basing much of the story around a disused coal mine: "One thing I did not view with alarm was the disruption of the power of the miners. I was on the wrong side of everybody else, and I am by nature and education left-wing, but I couldn't believe that anyone would fight so hard to do that disgusting job. I didn't want to throw a lump of coal on the fire and know hat some poor devil had ruined his life to bring it to me. I would rather a machine did that. "The Green Death" reflects the fact that I always sympathise with the workers, but the act is that I don't really want them, as people, to go down the mines. Every argument has at least two sides to consider."
  • Interviewed by Doctor Who Magazine in 1981, producer Barry Letts discussed the inspiration for the story: "The Green Death" came about after Terrance and I had read a series of pieces in an environmental magazine about the pollution of the earth by man. The articles were very disturbing and made me wish I could do something positive about it. Terrance and I were talking about this and he said, 'One of the things we could do is produce a Doctor Who story about pollution and get people thinking about it.' So that was exactly what we did."
  • The start of the scene in which Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart first meets Jocelyn Stevens was removed during editing of the episode. The lost material has Stevens summoning Ralph Fell into his office on the intercom, then explaining to the Brigadier that Fell is their chief scientific and technical advisor.
  • Stevens says that Professor Cliff Jones tried to borrow the cutting equipment "yesterday," yet when Jones was on the phone to the Brigadier earlier in the story he said it was "a few weeks back" when they tried to borrow it.
  • In a line cut from the finished version of the second episode, after the Doctor congratulates Jones on his paper on DNA synthesis, he was to have added, "Haven't seen anything like it since a fellow I met in Vladivostok in 2179."
  • A short scene of the Doctor and Cliff planning how to get the lift working again was cut from the second episode during editing prior to broadcast.
  • Before the name change from Universal Chemicals to Global Chemicals, the script had the protesters carrying banners saying such things as "UC- Ultimate Corruption" and "Save the Valley from UC."
  • A line cut from Episode Three has the Doctor tell Jo that he always knows which way is north, "like a homing pigeon."
  • A line lost in the editing of Episode Four prior to transmission is of Stevens introducing Yates to "our troublesome friend the Doctor."
  • Sloman's original script had a member of the Wholeweal community called Face who featured in Episode Three. The character was cut from the finished script, and the dialogue was given to Nancy instead.

Cast and characters[]

  • Interviewed by Doctor Who Magazine in 1998, director Michael Briant recalled the casting of this story: "I saw the commune as quite a real thing, so you needed to believe Cliff Jones was a hippy. I was having problems casting the part and Katy had suggested her then-boyfriend early on, but I'd thought it wasn't a good idea in case the relationship went wrong. You give people small parts as favours, but not a lead role. I thought about and interviewed a lot of actors, but I really couldn't find anybody to play the part. It was getting quite close to production, and Barry said that maybe we should see Katy's boyfriend, Stewart Bevan. He came in and he was right for it."
  • The character of Ralph Fell was originally named Charles Bell in Robert Sloman's original script. It was then discovered that at the time, a person by the name of Douglas Bell was the chief executive of petroleum company ICI. To avoid possible confusion and legal difficulties, the BBC decided to change the character's name.
  • Early on in the writing of this story, there was some debate amongst the production team as to which UNIT regular would go undercover at Global Chemicals. Although it was eventually decided it would be Captain Mike Yates, the other option under discussion was for Sergeant Benton to be given the role.
  • John Rolfe had previously appeared in Doctor Who as a British Army captain in "The War Machines" and as Sam Becket in "The Moonbase".
  • Richard Beale had provided the voice of an invisible Refusian in "The Ark" before returning to the series to play Bat Masterson in "The Gunfighters". He was also the propaganda voice broadcast around the camp in "The Macra Terror".
  • Brian Justice appeared in a number of Jon Pertwee stories as an extra or a stuntman. His previous most significant role was as Castle Guard Wilson in "The Sea Devils". In the end credits for Episode 4, Justice is incorrectly credited as "Yate's Guard."
  • Mitzi McKenzie had previously appeared on the program as Mrs Martin in "Colony in Space".
  • Talfryn Thomas previously appeared on the program as Mullins in Jon Pertwee's debut story "Spearhead from Space". His distinctive looks and strong Swansea accent saw him regularly cast as TV's token Welshman for many years in the 1960s and 1970s.


  • Costume designer Barbara Kidd had previously worked on the story "Frontier in Space". She would go on to design costumes for the stories "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", "The Monster of Peladon", "The Ark in Space", "The Sontaran Experiment", "Genesis of the Daleks", "Pyramids of Mars" and "Kinda".
  • Robert Sloman's script describes Jo's costume for the evening meal at Wholeweal to be: "A flowing kaftan-like garment with several strings of wooden beads round her neck. She looks quite smashing."


  • Interviewed by Doctor Who Magazine in 1985, composer Dudley Simpson recalled a problematic sequence from the third episode: "Barry often used to call me back in to tone down the music, I'd be terribly busy on the next story, and he'd beg me. On "The Green Death", there was one scene with a poor chap all in a daze walking along this parapet and he went bang over the edge and splattered on the path below. Barry said it was horrible - 'I can't show that to the kids!' We put a gong or something silly on it, and it took away the sting."
  • Director Michael Briant specified to composer Dudley Simpson that guitar music be used for the Wholeweal scenes in Episodes Three and Four.

Sets and props[]

  • While communicating with Sergeant Benton from the slag heap in Episode Four, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart uses the same silver radio unit which had cropped up in the series many times since he first used it in "The Invasion", including an appearance in "Doctor Who and the Silurians".
  • The Doctor uses a Hy-Mac hoist attached to a South Wales Electricity Land Rover to gain access to Global Chemicals' grounds.
  • The sliding gates and the surrounding metal framework for the doors that close upon the Doctor when he infiltrates Global Chemicals were additions made by the BBC to the location. The hut and road barrier, which was made of balsa wood, seen outside Global Chemicals were also added to the factory prior to filming.
  • As the Doctor picks up the maggot egg, it makes a squeaking noise. This is because the "egg" is actually a party balloon sprayed silver. A different egg prop to the one used earlier in the story features in the shot of the first on-screen hatching, where the balloon is replacd by an egg made of thin, brittle plastic.
  • Katy Manning inadvertently knocked a piece of scenery out of position while carrying Roy Evans' character through the mine set.
  • All the vehicles used for this serial - the cars, a milk lorry and a Range Rover - were supplied by Cardiff-based company U-Haul.
  • The security office has a calendar dated February 1972 (a leap year) on the wall, while the wall calendar in Captain Yates' office gives the date as Monday 28th April.


  • The premises used for Global Chemicals during filming was a factory owned by RCA International at Bryn-Mawr in Breconshire. The factory had been a production unit making magnetic tape for video firm RCA, but had closed down some 16 months prior to the filming of this serial and was empty at the time. Most of these scenes were filmed on Monday 19th March 1973.
  • The mines used to film the exterior scenes for the story was Ogilvie Colliery, near Deri in Wales. Ogilvie Colliery was the last deep mine to be sunk by the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company and opened in 1920. By the 1960s, the mine was not operating as successfully as other Welsh coal mines and very nearly closed in 1969. An underground fire in 1971 caused the closure of one of the main coalfaces, weakening still further the economic future of the mine. At the time of making the serial, the mine was owned by the National Coal Board, who allowed the BBC to film around the surface of the mine, as well as filming several characters descending into the mine the using the working lifts used by the miners in real life. Requests were made to film underground, but this was refused by the NCB due to the gas pockets in the mine, which ran the risk of causing explosions around machinery. However, both director Michael Briant and Jon Pertwee were given a tour of the mine and visited one of the underground coalfaces. The mine closed down in 1975, and the site is now home to the Parc Cwm Darran country park.
  • In his book I Am The Doctor, Jon Pertwee recalled his visit to the coalface while filming "The Green Death" at Ogilvie Colliery. "We were able to go down in the mines for a sightseeing tour, and this proved to be a frightening experience. They took us along all these disused workings, and at one point we had to get down on our hands and knees and crawl through some rock tunnels which were only a few feet across. You really get a sense of those thousands of tons of rock and coal pressing down on you. Later that day, I was able to travel in one of the cages down into the lowest part of mine. This was an experience I will never forget."
  • Interviewed by Doctor Who Magazine in 1998, director Michael Briant recalled the logistics of location filming for this story: "It was set in a mining village in Wales, so it wasn't far - out of Television Centre, turn right and keep going! It wasn't that different from going to Portsmouth for "The Sea Devils". If you travel to a location, you lose half a day, including make-up and lunch. You'll only manage a couple of hours of shooting. Generally there was a travel day built into schedules, so provided that you could travel within eight hours - bearing in mind that a BBC lorry travels at 22.4 miles per hour - you were OK."


  • Interviewed by Doctor Who Magazine in 1998, director Michael Briant recalled the giant maggot effects: "I was pleased with them, especially as an effects exercise. Somehow I had a feeling that you shouldn't do effects in the same way all the time. People say, 'Oh, yeah. It's Chromakey,' or, 'It's model work.' The maggots were required to do different things so we did them in different ways. The concept was the same, but it changed according to whether we wanted walking maggots, biting maggots or whatever. To get the maggots on 'real ground', we had to be able to get underneath, so we built a rostrum. I suspect that wasn't very successful. We even tried real maggots for the sludge pipe shots, but that wasn't very successful either. They didn't move very well. Too many maggots, too little pipe? I don't know."
  • The visual effects team came up with a number of different ways of creating the giant maggots seen in this story. Large scale puppets were made that were about two foot long, with working jaws (modelled over a cast of a fox's skull), and were operated from beneath by rods. Another approach was to make very small-scale sets and then fill them with real maggots, which then looked much bigger in comparison. For the scenes of the slag heap covered in hundreds of maggots, inflated condoms were used for the maggots furthest away from the camera.
  • The maggot that advances on Jo at Wholeweal is one of the rod puppet versions of the maggots. It is added to the studio picture of Katy Manning via CSO. The attack on Hinks is initially achieved by the use of CSO but a prop maggot is also used to complete the scenes.
  • The maggots that appear shortly after the tunnel's collapse are puppets, worked from below the raised set with rods.
  • The "green death" effect was achieved by using a special Scotchlite powder on top of a small latex appliance which was attached to the actor's skin. This was coupled with a process known as front axial projection, which involves a special lightning mechanism which is rigged around the lens of the camera recording the image. When the light is faded up, nothing changes in the scene unless the scene contains a person or object which has been treated with light-reflecting material. The lighting is carefully angled so that only the camera lens sees the illuminated objects shining. For this story, a green-tinted light was used for the FAP scenes. The light was rhythmically dimmed to make the victims' infections pulsate.
  • The visual representation of BOSS's voice is shown on a screen - the picture is overlaid onto a yellow CSO area in the studio. The picture is that of the output of an oscilloscope, through which actor John Dearth's voice is being fed.
  • The coal truck was a real prop, recorded in the studio in front of a CSO drape. The model shot of the mine set festooned with maggots was added to the picture's background.
  • Fell's point-of-view shots were reversed reflections off a rippled sheet of Mirrorlon, a highly reflective and malleable material. The image it reflected was stable enough to be filmed by a studio camera. It was used to produce various distortion effects on Doctor Who over the years, most notably the effect of the Ice Warriors' guns on their victims in various stories.
  • CSO was used to combine the shot of Katy Manning in the studio with the small model set of the tunnel, complete with real maggots.
  • The explosive closure of the pithead of the mine was achieved with model filming.
  • Jon Pertwee jumps from the crane platform in close-up to disguise the fact the cabin is barely off the ground, while the actual jump from the high platform is done by regular stunt double Terry Walsh, who is in costume with a grey wig. Pertwee takes over again when the Doctor is safely on the ground. Walsh again doubles for Pertwee during the fight scenes on the grounds of Global Chemicals where the Doctor is in long shot or has his back to the camera, although Pertwee provides some close-up shots which are cut into the sequence.

Other information[]

  • The end credit title sequence is played upside down and backwards for the second, fifth and sixth episodes of the serial. This is the first and only time this was ever done with these titles, with one likely explanation is that as the titles for all six episodes were recorded together, rather than rewind the film for each take, the film would just be reversed after each successful run, and another episode's captions were done to these images.
  • John Levene ad-libs the names of Dicks and Betts for two of the UNIT soldiers. Both are unscheduled references to members of the production team, namely script editor Terrance Dicks and producer Barry Letts.
  • Nicholas Courtney ad-libs the line about the Brigadier once being stationed in Aldgate and smokes one of his own cigars in the Wholeweal dinner scene.
  • Chitin is a substance forming the harder part of the exoskeletons of insects and various other invertebrates. Jon Pertwee was wrongly advised to pronounce the "chit" in "chitinous" to rhyme with "pit" for this scene. A few days after Episode Four was broadcast, producer Barry Letts received a letter from a viewer which simply said "Dear Barry, the reason I'm writin' is how to say 'chitin.'"
  • In his book I Am The Doctor, Jon Pertwee recalled his approach to the disguises used by the Doctor in this story: "I got the opportunity to play some different characters in this story. The first time was when I posed as an elderly milkman in order to get into the chemical factory. I quite liked that little piece as the character was a chatty Welsh milkman. The other part was an old cleaning lady, but I was rather less pleased with that performance. A bit OTT, I thought. However, it was refreshing to get out of the character of the Doctor for a few moments and do someone else."
  • The fictitious Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is referred to as Jeremy in an allusion to Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal Party at the time this serial was made. The production team did not want to be seen to endorse either the Conservative government or the Labour opposition of the day so, as admitted by Letts on the serial's DVD commentary, they implied that the Liberals would become the next government in the "a little bit in the future" setting of the story.
  • BOSS's line about Stevens being a "good little Nietzschean" is a reference to the works of the 19th century German existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. One of Nietzsche's more well-known essays, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, concentrated on moving towards a mode of psychologically healthier being, beyond the common human condition. Nietzche referred to this higher mde of being as "ubermenschlich" - "superhuman" - which is the state BOSS wants Stevens to progress towards as a result of his conditioning.

Links and references[]


Uncredited performers[]

  • Jill Alexandra as a female Wholeweal resident (1)
  • Bill Baker as a UNIT soldier (4-6)
  • Leslie Bates as
  • David Billa as Betts (5-6)
  • Robert Birmingham as a hippy boy (3,6)
  • Laurie Boyton as
    • Guard (1-2)
    • Male villager (1-2)
  • David Braddick as
  • John Cadwaladr as a UNIT soldier (4-6)
  • Gordon Cecil as a male villager (1)
  • Jean Channon as Hilda (3)
  • Roger Chapple as a UNIT soldier (4-6)
  • Alan Chuntz as a guard (2)
  • Reg Cranfield as a male villager (1)
  • Michael Cunningham as
    • Guard (2)
    • Male villager (1)
  • Alison Daimler as a hippy girl (3,6)
  • Frank Darroch as a male villager (1)
  • John Dearth as UNIT radio voice (2)
  • Vincent Gardener as a male Wholeweal resident (1)
  • Pat Gorman as
    • Guard (4-6)
    • Male Wholeweal resident (6)
  • Ken Halliwell as a sculptor (3-4)
  • Billy Horrigan as a guard (2)
  • Steve Ismay as a guard (4-6)
  • John Jeffries as
  • Roger Knott as a UNIT soldier (4-6)
  • Peter McGowan as a UNIT soldier (4-6)
  • Lyn Melley as a female Wholeweal resident (6)
  • Geoffrey Morgan as
    • Guard (2)
    • Male Wholeweal resident (1)
  • Rendle Morris as a male villager (1)
  • Roger Mundy as
    • Guard (1)
    • Male villager (1)
  • Keith Norrish as a long-haired boy (3)
  • Dennis Plenty as a guard (1)
  • Brychan Powell as Jeremy Thorpe (3)
  • Evan Ross as a cabinet minister (3)
  • Tricia Selby as a female Wholeweal resident (1)
  • Frank Seton as a miner (1-2)
  • Jessica Stanley-Clarke as Jessie (3)
  • Wayne Warlow as a male villager (1)
  • David Waterman as a miner (1-2)
  • Mansel Wilks as
    • Guard (1)
    • Male villager (1)
  • Sonny Willis as a male villager (1)
  • Edward Wyman as a UNIT soldier (4-6)
  • Unknown performer as


  • Written by Robert Sloman
  • Directed by Michael Briant
  • Produced by Barry Letts
  • Fight Arranger - Terry Walsh
  • Title Music by Ron Grainer and BBC Radiophonic Workshop
  • Incidental Music by Dudley Simpson
  • Special Sound - Dick Mills
  • Film Cameramen -
  • Film Sound - Simon Wilson
  • Film Editor - Alastair Mackay
  • Visual Effects Designers -
    • Ron Oates
    • Colin Mapson
    • Richard Conway
  • Costume Designer - Barbara Kidd
  • Make-Up - Ann Rayment
  • Studio Lighting - Mike Jefferies
  • Studio Sound - Richard Chubb
  • Script Editor - Terrance Dicks
  • Designer - John Burrowes


1884; 1952; 1972; 1973

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Additional references[]

BLC7B; G-AVZC; The Heliport; KTG216L; Mercedes-Benz; NDO440; NXC239H; South Wales Electricity Board; Southampton; Twyford Moors Helicopters; UWO859H; VBO907J; VNF639L