Marco Polo is the fourth serial of the first season of Doctor Who. It was written by John Lucarotti, directed by Waris Hussein and John Crockett and featured William Hartnell as the First Doctor, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman.
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They join the Venetian traveller, along with the warlord Tegana, on a journey which will ultimately take them to the palace of the mighty Kublai Khan in Peking. But all is not well for the four time travellers - believing it to be an object of magic, Marco intends to offer the TARDIS to the Khan in return for his freedom to return to Venice.
The Doctor and his companions must regain possession of the ship before they are trapped in the 13th Century forever - and someone is determined to ensure they never make it to Peking.
The Roof of the World (1) Edit
Walking around a snow-covered ground outside the TARDIS, Susan is drawn to a large footstep embedded in the snow, reasoning it must have been made by a giant. Ian and the Doctor soon emerge from the TARDIS to join her and Barbara, Ian reasoning that the footprint could easily have been made by an ordinary person. The Doctor reveals he had guided the ship towards Earth and they had successfully arrived there before vanishing back inside to do some work.
Ian, Barbara and Susan conclude that they've landed in the Himalayas when the Doctor comes back, grumbling angrily and holding a burnt out circuit, which has caused the TARDIS to stop working and deprived them of water. Ian and Barbara go out looking for fuel to start a fire to keep them from freezing to death while Susan stays to help the Doctor.
Walking into a ravine, Barbara stops to rest while Ian continues looking for fuel, when she is suddenly alerted by the sight of something looking at her and draws his attention to a set of footprints left behind. Without anything to find, Ian and Barbara go back to the ship. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Susan find the broken component, but it's damaged beyond repair, meaning the Doctor would have to construct a new one, which would take days.
When the schoolteachers return, the Doctor decides that they should make their way to a lower altitude before the temperature drops when Susan spots a man watching them. He flees when Susan cries out and the travellers follow him. Back in the ravine, they are all confronted by a small band of swordsmen; their leader examines them and concludes them to be evil spirits and must be destroyed, before the timely intervention of another figure who kindly offers them shelter and they follow him.
In a tent nearby, a girl called Ping-Cho is preparing food when the figure returns with the Doctor's party. He provides them with food and Barbara correctly identifies him as Marco Polo, who in turn introduces them to Ping-Cho and the warlord Tegana and tells them that they're on a journey to Shang-Tu. With night approaching, Polo offers shelter to the travellers, having Ping-Cho share with Susan and giving Barbara his quarters which he remains with the Doctor and Ian. The Doctor has Marco verify the year and location as 1289 on the Plain of Pamir.
Later that evening, Susan and Ping-Cho converse, with Ping-Cho revealing that she is travelling with Polo as part of an arranged marriage to a 75-year-old member of Kublai Khan's court. Tegana is still convinced that the Doctor's party are evil spirits and tries to convince Polo of this, to no avail. He then tells him of the TARDIS, which Ian and Barbara then opt to show Polo the following morning. Unable to enter or operate it, Polo orders a sledge to be built to bring it down the mountain pass.
Back at the caravan, the Doctor talks with Ping-Cho about her food when he asks after Tegana; Ping-Cho tells him that Tegana is there as a peace emissary from the Mongol lord Khan Noghai, who had been at war with Kublai Khan until the fighting ceased and peace was in talks. Polo returns with the Doctor's companions and tells everyone they are to move out to the village of Lop. When the Doctor says he can work on repairing the TARDIS on the way, Polo refuses the request on the Mongols' suspicion that they are evil spirits and that he can work on in upon reaching Lop; the Doctor agrees and complies with his terms.
Upon their arrival in Lop, the TARDIS is placed outside. However, when the Doctor goes off to work on it, Marco has his Mongol guards block his way. He explains his home is in Venice, and upon travelling to the court of the Kublai Khan was soon given entry to his service; however, when he asked to return home, the Khan refused. He finally confesses that he is requisitioning the TARDIS to give to the Khan as a gift so he can return home, much to the Doctor's ire.
Outside of the caravan, Tegana meets with a dealer who supplies him with a small vial of poison, capable of killing a man with a few drops. Tegana explains his plan to poison all but one of Polo's water containers, wait until all of Polo's caravan is dead and take the TARDIS to the Kublai Khan's court himself, and bring to Khan down.
The Singing Sands (2) Edit
Beginning their trek across the Gobi Desert, the Doctor frequently voices his disapproval of Polo's actions by being difficult and constantly bad-tempered. During one of their stops, he does not join his party or Polo's for food. When Susan takes him some, she returns distressed and upset and runs outside and Barbara follows her. She voices her disappointment at the TARDIS' apprehension and the Doctor's bad attitude, but Barbara tries to console her over it and sends her back inside.
Later that night, when everybody else is asleep, Ping-Cho and Susan sneak outside of their quarters when Susan spots Tegana walk off into the desert and the girls follow him. Alerted by the sound of disgruntled horses, Polo concludes that a sandstorm is approaching. Trekking over sand dunes in pursuit of Tegana, Susan and Ping-Cho hear the approaching sandstorm and hurry back towards the caravan when they are soon caught in the storm
Back at the caravan, Ian, Barbara and Polo discover Tegana and the girls are gone but are unable to go after them in the storm. Out in the dunes, Susan and Ping-Cho keep close to each other when they are found by Tegana, who proceeds to bring them back to the caravan when the storm lifts. After the adults berate the girls for their actions, Polo plans to break camp and continue the voyage.
When the caravan stops again, Susan and Ping-Cho discuss Tegana's reasons for being outside the camp when the sandstorm hit, believing he has an undisclosed motive. Later that night, Tegana distracts one of the guards and cuts open all but one of the water gourds with his dagger, leaving them only one. Polo and Ian discover the damage the following morning but Polo refuses to turn back and get more for fear of being attack by bandits, meaning that they must press on.
Travelling further and further, getting ever weaker, the caravan continues to ration off the water it has left, but the supply is running low. Tegana offers to go to the oasis ahead and bring water back to the caravan, which Polo condones as the camp continues on their own. As Barbara and Susan help the Doctor to his feet, he collapses from exhaustion; Polo agrees to let the Doctor rest in the TARDIS with Susan, while Ian and Barbara remain with him.
Arriving at the oasis, Tegana drinks from it himself and then taunts Polo with it from afar, indicating he has no intention to return with it.
Five Hundred Eyes (3) Edit
Polo, Ian, Barbara and Ping-Cho continue watching out for Tegana, but there is no sign of him. Ian suggests they go on but Polo decides against. Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor is awoken by water dripping on his head from the ceiling. He hurriedly wakes Susan and the pair of them rush to collect as much water as they can from the condensation on the walls. With still no sign of Tegana, the Doctor and Susan hurry outside with the collected water; Polo is initially angry at the Doctor for supposedly harbouring water from him but Ian and Susan explain it to him. He has Ian try it to assure that it's safe.
Later, when Tegana returns, he gives them an excuse for his delayed arrival and Polo insists that they proceed, but agrees to remain until morning to give the Doctor time to rest. Ian and Barbara don't believe his story but get no clear answer out of him. Before proceeding, the Doctor is adamant that he doesn't wish to surrender the TARDIS key to him again.
When they arrive in Tun-Huang, the TARDIS is set down in the courtyard. Barbara and Susan are fascinated by Polo's detailed history of the nearby 'Cave of Five-Hundred Eyes', while the Doctor talks with Ian outside about his plan to sneak into the TARDIS and repair their broken circuit, having given Polo a key he made when the party had stopped in the desert. Barbara later approaches Ian about her suspicions of Tegana, but they are quickly ushered inside to listen to Ping-Cho tell the story of Ala-eddin and the Hashashin.
When night falls, Tegana slips away from the camp and goes to the Cave of Five-Hundred Eyes alone, where he meets with a group of Mongols to report his progress. Telling them about the TARDIS, they arrange to attack Polo's caravan and seize it before it can be given to Kublai Khan. While they talk, one of the agents spots Barbara, who followed Tegana wandering around the cave and reports it to him. Wandering aimlessly in the dark, Barbara doesn't hear the Mongols surround her and she is captured by them.
Later, Tegana returns to Tun-Huang and tells Polo and the others that Barbara is missing. Polo is strongly perturbed by the news and goes with Ian to search a section of the city while Tegana searches another and orders the Doctor, Susan and Ping-Cho to stay put. Meanwhile, in the cave, the Mongol soldiers play dice to decide which of them is going to kill the bound Barbara. Later that evening, while the Doctor goes over to the TARDIS, Susan and Ping-Cho tell him that they think Barbara went to the Cave of Five-Hundred Eyes and he goes, reluctantly taking the girls with him, to find it.
When they arrive at the cave, there is no sign of Barbara, while Tegana is enraged to discover their journey and goes after them. When Ping-Cho finds Barbara's handkerchief, they call out to her, but she cannot answer with a Mongol's blade to her throat. Suddenly, the eyes of the of the face in the cave move and Susan screams.
The Wall of Lies (4) Edit
Ian and Polo return to hear of the Doctor's travelling to the cave with the girls from the landlord and go after them. In the cave, Susan tries to convince the skeptical Doctor that the eyes in the walls did move when they are interrupted by the arrival of Tegana. Presenting her handkerchief, Tegana becomes defensive when Ian and Polo arrive as well. Ian looks at the eyes that Susan saw move and he finds the eyes have been set in from a room behind the wall. Finding the door to the room, Ian and Polo storm in and overpower the Mongols holding Barbara captive.
When they return to the camp, Tegana again tries to set Polo against the Doctor and his companions, when Barbara comes down and tells Polo that she was only at the cave after following Tegana there. Tegana naturally denies this and leaves the room when Polo orders Susan and Ping-Cho separated over the Warlord's previous propositions.
After further travels, the Doctor, Ian and Barbara discuss their departure one night, while the Doctor voices his nerves over Ping-Cho's knowledge of the second key. Elsewhere, Ping-Cho sits despondently in her quarters when she is approached by Susan, who is even more suspicious of Tegana. Ping-Cho is upset by the fact that Susan and the others would soon be departing, but she promises to say goodbye to her before she leaves.
When the caravan stops at Sinju, the girls again try to prove to Polo that Tegana had lied about not having been to the Cave of Five-Hundred Eyes before, but his angered by the lacklustre proof to their acusation and doesn't listen. In town, Tegana meets with Acomat, an Mongol agent from the cave, with whom he arranges another plot in which he would kill the guard after two nights and signal him with a torch to come and kill them all.
Under the cover of night, the Doctor and Barbara make their way to the courtyard; the Doctor goes into the TARDIS to finish his work on the circuit while Barbara keeps watch. After he has gone inside, Tegana arrives from the shadows and approaches the TARDIS while Barbara goes off to find Ian. When they are together, Tegana has disappeared; Ian has Susan and Barbara get the Doctor out of the TARDIS while he attempts a distraction that may give them the advantage on Tegana.
The gambit fails, however, when Tegana appears and tells Polo that the Doctor is inside the ship and when they go to investigate, he steps out of the TARDIS. Polo's guards force the key from the Doctor's possession, who in turn angrily refuses to give Polo the knowledge of how to work the TARDIS and insults him. Furious, Polo has the Doctor and his companions locked up and threatened with execution should any of them approach the TARDIS again.
On the journey to Shang-Tu, progress is hindered by Polo's need to have the Doctor's party guarded and keep Ping-Cho, who has a growing resentment of him because of his actions, away from them. One night, a sentry keeps an eye on the Doctor's party. Ian is getting pent up over the condition of their travels, while the Doctor agrees that they have to find a way to get one of the keys back from Polo. Ian picks up a piece of the broken plate and opts to cut his way out of the tent to avoid the guard. But upon leaving, he finds the guard propped up against a tree when a collapses, dead with a knife in his chest.
Rider from Shang-Tu (5) Edit
Acomat readies the Mongols to attack the camp as soon as they see Tegana's signal. The Doctor, Susan and Barbara come out to find the guard dead, but they cannot proceed with their plan as the spot Tegana lighting the signalling torch. To this end, Ian goes to warn Polo of the coming attack. He sneaks inside Polo's tent and tells him of the incoming attack; Polo has Susan stay with Ping-Cho while he arms the Doctor, Ian and the men in the camp to defend. The Doctor suggests using the TARDIS to get away from them, but Polo refuses on account of the Doctor's past deception.
Ian has the idea to scare them away by lighting bamboo for the explosive noise it makes. The Mongols continue to await Tegana's signal, but Acomat impatiently orders them to attack if the signal does not arrive shortly. Ian admits to Polo that he had been trying to escape and get the TARDIS key back when he found the guard. As Tegana continues to state that the attack is a ruse, Ian and Polo hear their attackers approaching. Ian wakes the Doctor and the camp takes arms to defend themselves.
When Acomat arrives, Tegana fights and slays him before he can expose him and the bamboo exploding scared the remainder of the bandits off. The camp presses on come daybreak but stop to rest again not far from Shang-Tu. While the Doctor and his companions discuss their next move, Polo and Tegana come in and revoke the seizure of the TARDIS and their free movement for sacrificing their attempt at escape to help them, but they don't promise not to try and leave again.
After Polo and Tegana leave, the Doctor, Ian and Barbara try to discern Tegana's motives, convinced that he was behind the attack the previous night. Suddenly, Susan and Ping-Cho enter the tent with a messenger come from Shang-Tu named Ling-Tau. Polo hides the TARDIS keys in his journal when Ping-Cho comes to tell him of the messenger and makes her swear not to tell anyone where they are. Polo meets with Ling-Tau graciously and provides him a parchment from the Kublai Khan with an immediate summons. Their belongings, including the TARDIS would have to follow separately.
Travelling to Cheng-Ting to collect horses for their follow up journey to Shang-Tu, the Doctor enquires after the TARDIS when the locals ensure Polo that it will brought along with their possessions. Outside in the courtyard, Susan and Ping-Cho talk about Susan's home; Ping-Cho is struck with the realisation that if Polo gives away the TARDIS, Susan would never be able to return and thus agrees to defy Polo and get the key for them. Elsewhere, Tegana secretly has a merchant named Kuiju send the TARDIS ahead to Shang-Tu.
Later, when Ping-Cho calls Polo for dinner, she takes on of the keys upon leaving the room and discreetly gives it over to Susan, who promises that she will say goodbye before leaving. That night, the travellers cautiously move around to get to the TARDIS; Ian acts drunk to distract the guard before rendering him unconscious. Susan rushes back to find Ping-Cho while the other's make for the TARDIS. After saying her piece to Ping-Cho, she rushes back to the TARDIS when she is grabbed by Tegana.
Mighty Kublai Khan (6) Edit
Ian rushes out to try and reason with Tegana, but he threatens to stab Susan if the Doctor and Barbara do not show themselves, forcing their hand. Polo comes out to investigate the disturbance and requests the key from the Doctor, which he hands over in exchange for Susan's safety. Tegana releases her and tries to attack the travellers before Polo stops him. Before Ping-Cho reveals herself, Ian takes the blame for the key's theft and Polo appears to accept this.
Come dawn, the caravan travels onward until it stops at an inn, where Barbara pleads with Ian to try and talk with Polo, who arrives shortly after but still won't relinquish the TARDIS back to them. Ian tries his hand at telling Polo the truth about it being a time-travelling machine. Despite this, Polo does not believe him; he then goes on to state that he know Ian lied about stealing the key to protect Ping-Cho. Having overheard the conversation, Ping-Cho flees the caravan out of fear and the camp discovers her disappearance come the morning.
Ian offers to go back for Ping-Cho while Polo presses on to Shang-Tu to meet the Kublai Khan's summons; despite initial reservations, Polo permits it and has his men ready a horse for him. Back in Cheng-Ting, Kuiju inquires after the TARDIS, when Ping-Cho approaches him and requests passage with his caravan. After being told she was robbed, she is recognised by Weng-Lo when Ian arrives looking for her and she cries over her plights. When she describes the man who robbed her, a traveller with the warrant to take the TARDIS appears, meaning that Kuiju has stolen the TARDIS.
Back at the caravan, Tegana and Polo argue over Ian's reasons for going after Ping-Cho alone, with Tegana claiming that he has gone back simply to get the TARDIS. During this, Susan and Barbara arrive and, overhearing the conversation, voice their disapproval of Ping-Cho's arranged marriage to a man four times her age as well as the Doctor and Ian's disapproval on their behalf. Believing now that Ian's offer was made to liberate Ping-Cho, Polo allows Tegana to take a horse to bring them back.
Ping-Cho and Ian try and think where the TARDIS could have been taken when Ping-Cho mentions a road to Shang-Tu that isn't used any more. Arriving at the summer palace in Shang-Tu, Polo's caravan awaits the arrival of the Khan. Expected to pay homage to the Khan, the Doctor shows belligerence and is met with disapproval when he is unable to bow on account of his back. The Khan orders them to stand and welcomes them to his palace but is displeased by Tegana's absence. He orders suitable accommodation for the new-comers and transport for the journey to Peking.
That night, Ian and Ping-Cho make their way across the disused route to Shang-Tu, when they spot Wang-Lo sat alone with the TARDIS awaiting something. They are quickly discovered by Kuiju when Ian quickly overpowers him and gets Ping-Cho's money back. Upon learning that Tegana paid him to bring the TARDIS on that route, the warlord arrives; Ian threatens to kill Kuiju but Tegana is not dissuaded and tells him to do so, meeting his gaze with a sword in hand and sadistic smile.
Assassin at Peking (7) Edit
Tegana pledges his allegiance to Noghai to Ian and Ping-Cho and explains that he will be unstoppable with the power of the TARDIS. The confrontation is broken by the arrival of Ling-Tau and his guards but Kuiju is killed when he attempts escape. Tegana tries to accuse Ian and Ping-Cho of trying to steal the TARDIS, but Ling-Tau says he is not empowered to make judgment and takes the three of them to the Khan's palace in Peking. At the palace, the Doctor and the Kublai Khan play a game of backgammon, in which the Doctor is currently in possession of many assets, when they are interrupted by the arrival of the Empress. The Doctor agrees to one more game with the Khan in which he can take back everything he's won in exchange for the TARDIS if he wins, to which the Khan agrees. Polo arrives and he informs him of Tegana's arrival, but is disheartened of the TARDIS being made stake to the game.
Outside, Ling-Tau approaches Polo, Susan and Barbara about Tegana's claims and tells them that Ian and Ping-Cho are in custody on that suspicion, when the Doctor exits the palace having lost the game and the TARDIS to the Khan. When Polo speaks to Ian about what Tegana said to them, he says that their word is not strong enough on it's own and that Ian would be standing trial alone as Ping-Cho's betrothed has requested that she be excused for the charges.
The next day, the TARDIS is brought before the Khan, who is suitably amused, and thanks Polo for his gift but asks why the Doctor would wish to steal the TARDIS back from him. He admits that he'd hoped his gift would make the Khan grant him leave to return home and the Khan is displeased with his conduct of attempting to bribe him and tells him to bring the key to him after the banquet that night. He gives a similar order to Tegana to attend, but tells him he will be subject to high scrutiny.
Later on, the Khan calls Polo, Ping-Cho and Ling-Tau to inform them that Ping-Cho's arranged groom died during the banquet and she requests to remain in the Khan's court afterward. After she is dismissed, the Khan tells Polo that, following his gambit with the TARDIS, he must regain the trust of the court or else face being banished and left to fend for himself. Polo gives the key to the Khan and asks for the Doctor to be brought to him after he has spoken with Tegana.
While Tegana comes before the Khan in his throne room, the Doctor and his companions discuss Tegana's plans and motives and discern that Tegana's distractions throughout the journey to Peking has enabled Noghai's army to encroach on the city and that Tegana is going to assassinate the Khan to throw the court's army into anarchy. They trick the guard and hurry to the throne room to stop him.
They run into Polo and tell him about Noghai's army and Tegana's plan; Polo arms himself and rushes to stop him. In the throne room, Tegana finally makes his move and attacks the Khan, when his guard jumps in front and takes the blow. Before he can strike again, Polo rushes in, sword in hand and engages him in a fight. Polo soon overpowers and disarms Tegana while the Khan orders his guards inside; instead of facing the wrath of the Khan however, Tegana impales himself on a guards spear.
Ordering Tegana's body taken away, Polo gives the Doctor the TARDIS keys and ushers them away quickly. Saying their goodbyes, the travellers hurry inside the TARDIS and dematerialise in front of the Khan's court. The Khan is amazed by the sight and allows Polo to return home to Venice. While he is gracious, Polo ponders to himself where the travellers have gone, the past or the future, as the screen is superimposed with an image of the the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara at the TARDIS console.
- Dr. Who - William Hartnell
- Ian Chesterton - William Russell
- Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill
- Susan Foreman - Carole Ann Ford
- Marco Polo - Mark Eden
- Tegana - Derren Nesbitt
- Ping-Cho - Zienia Merton
- Kublai Khan - Martin Miller
- Chenchu - Jimmy Gardner
- Man at Lop - Leslie Bates
- Mongol Bandit - Michael Guest
- Malik - Charles Wade
- Acomat - Philip Voss
- Ling-Tau - Paul Carson
- Wang-Lo - Gabor Baraker
- Kuiju - Tutte Lemkow
- Empress - Claire Davenport
- Vizier - Peter Lawrence
- Office Foreman - Basil Tang
- Yeng - O. Ikeda
- Writer - John Lucarotti
- Director - Waris Hussein, John Crockett ("The Wall of Lies" only)
- Producer - Verity Lambert
- Script Editor - David Whitaker
- Designer - Barry Newbury
- Assistant Floor Manager - Catherine Childs
- Associate Producer - Mervyn Pinfield
- Costumes - Daphne Dare
- Film Editor - Richard Barclay, Elmer Davies and John House
- Incidental Music - Tristram Cary
- Make-Up - Ann Ferriggi
- Production Assistant - Douglas Camfield, Penny Joy
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - John Treays, Howard King
- Studio Sound - Jack Brummitt, Hugh Barker, Derek Miller-Timmins
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
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Story notes Edit
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Broadcast & Ratings Edit
|No. Overall||#||Title||Runtime||First Airdate||Viewers (in millions)|
|#14||1||The Roof of the World||24:12||22 February 1964||9.4|
|#15||2||The Singing Sands||26:34||29 February 1964||9.4|
|#16||3||Five Hundred Eyes||22:20||07 March 1964||9.4|
|#17||4||The Wall of Lies||24:48||14 March 1964||9.9|
|#18||5||Riders from Shang-Tu||23:26||21 March 1964||9.4|
|#19||6||Mighty Kublai Khan||25:36||28 March 1964||8.4|
|#20||7||Assassin at Peking||24:48||04 April 1964||10.4|
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Home video and audio releases Edit
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External Links Edit
- Official Marco Polo page on Doctor Who Website