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TME > Video > Commercial Releases

Pyramids of Mars

When the TARDIS is infiltrated by a mysterious force, the Doctor and Sarah Jane are drawn off course and arrive in England at the turn of the 20th Century. Dark forces from aeons ago are beginning to stir, and the whole future of life on Earth is at stake. Sutekh, last of the Osirians, is breaking free from his ancient prison, and no power in the universe can stand in his way.
-- from the DVD release, 2004

The classic Tom Baker story was an early candidate for VHS, and although took a while to appear on DVD, it did so at the request of the readers of Doctor Who Magazine...

Episode timings on DVD: 25'23", 23'55", 24'32", 24'41"
Episode timings on PasB: 25'22", 23'53", 24'32", 24'52"


VHS releases

??/03/1985: UK - BBC Enterprises - BBCV2014 (and BBCB2014 - Betamax) [reissued 7/1987 as BBCV5220]
01/11/1985: Aus - PolyGrram - BBC20142 [not pictured]
??/??/1985: Japan - Pony Video - V128F1440
??/??/1986: Finland - Secam Video - CVF2017 [not pictured]
??/??/1987: US - Playhouse - 3713 [not pictured]
??/12/1987: NZ - Kerridge Odeon Amalgamated Video Services - BBC20142 [not pictured]
14/?2/1994: UK - BBC Enterprises - BBCV5220
??/??/1999: US - CBS/Fox - Cat# Unknown [renumbered by WHV in 2000 to E1109]

Original releases were omnibus versions, but the 1994 release restored the credits sequences in the UK only. The US 1999 release was part of the 'Gateway Collection' - low-cost Tom Baker stories bundled together. The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Stones of Blood and City of Death were also included.

DVD releases

01/03/2004: UK - BBC Worldwide - BBCDVD1350
30/06/2004: Aus/NZ - Roadshow Entertainment - Cat# Unknown
07/09/2004: US - Warner Home Video - E2022

Cover art by Clayton Hickman for UK/Aus.

An early cover (right) featured a PG logo.

This release followed a poll in 2003 where Doctor Who Magazine readers voted for the serial they most wanted to see on DVD - this won.

DVD Bonus features

Osirian Gothic (22'11")
  • Paddy Russell explains Doctor Who was avoided by directors, and why.
  • Philip Hinchcliffe goes over the story's genesis and why he got Holmes involved. Russell shares her memories of Holmes.
  • Bernard Archard talks about how he first met Russell, Elisabeth Sladen describes her as "a force to be reckoned with" and explains Tom Baker's relationship with her. Peter Copley and Michael Sheard also sing her praises.
  • Hinchcliffe tells us what he knew of Russell pre-Who and Russell talks about working with the designer. Christine Ruscoe herself then explains her thinking behind said designs.
  • Hinchcliffe expresses his delight at the performances Russell got out of the actors, and Russell briefly touches on her challenges. Archard talks about his character and about standing still for nine minutes, Sladen talks about accuracy in her gun-use, and Archard shares his memories of walking backwards.
  • Sheard talks about how he came to Pyramids of Mars and wishing he'd had an onscreen death.
  • Gabriel Woolf explains his approach as a voice actor, Hinchcliffe admits he wasn't keen at the idea of the casting originally, Woolf discusses underplaying and the surprise he has at Sutekh's popularity.
  • Hinchcliffe talks about the dog-like version of Sutekh being authentic but not quite right for what we'd expect.
  • Ruscoe discusses the design of Sutekh's lair and the large sarcophogi.
  • The documentary closes with discussions on the violence of the show from all contributors.

Interviews conducted by Martin Wiggins, Richard Molesworth, Damian Shanahan
Camera: John Kelly
Sound: Helen Rayner
Very Special Thanks to Colin Young, Derek Handley, Jan Vincent-Rudzki, Peter Ware & Charles Brett
Editor: Steve May
Producers: Paul Vanezis, Ed Stradling
BBC Worldwide (C) BBC MMIV


Serial Thrillers (41'57")
  • Philip Hinchcliffe discusses his love of the Letts era but the limitations of the formula.
  • David Moloney and Hinchcliffe talk about the ideas that Hinchcliffe and Holmes brought to the series and how they worked together to come up with the storylines.
  • Robert Banks Stewart and Hinchcliffe explain how they made adult drama for children. Hinchcliffe uses The Masque of Mandragora as an example of how stories came about and Stewart explains the writers' perspective.
  • Jim Sangster talks about the production team knowing the limitations and Roger Murray-Leach (in footage shot for The Ark in Space DVD) about what he was asked to do.
  • Gareth Roberts on the unfirormity Holmes offered, and Hinchcliffe and Stewart on telling an action story with low budget and writing scientific gobbledegook.
  • Andrew Beech and Hinchcliffe move into the topic of gothic horror in the show. Alan Barnes, Stewart and Roberts revel in the movie influences.
  • Beech, Hinchcliffe, Sladen, Roberts, Stewart, Sangster and Barnes discuss the differences between Pertwee and his successor.
  • Hinchcliffe talks about the wordiness of the scripts.
  • Sangster and Hinchcliffe compare Hinchcliffe-era-Tom to later-Tom.
  • Sangster, Sladen, Moloney and Beech on audience identification through Sarah-Jane and Hinchcliffe on her chemistry with Tom. Moloney and Roberts change the subject to discuss Ian Marters "solid"ness and Louise Jameson, about whom Hinchcliffe also shares his thoughts.
  • Moloney and Hinchcliffe on casting and Stewart on actors' delight to be doing Who.
  • Hinchcliffe talks about the lack of post-production, Roberts about the quality of the directing and Moloney about having a free hand.
  • Hinchcliffe and Sladen on the quality of Moloney's direction, and Stewart joins them to discuss Douglas Camfield.
  • Moloney and Hinchcliffe on the various departments that contributed towards the style of he show, and designer Christine Ruscoe on her contribution. Sangster, Hinchcliffe, Moloney, Murray-Leach, Barnes and Ruscoe on the challengers designers face - Planet of Evil is discussed in some depth in this respect.
  • Sangster, Hinchcliffe, Beech and Murry-Leach on sensitive lighting.
  • Hinchcliffe, Roberts, Sangster and Moloney on Dudley Simpson and cliffhangers. We also see a clip from Thirty Years in the TARDIS in which Mary Whitehouse complains about The Deadly Assassin. Roberts, Barnes and Stewart wonder if the show ever went too far. Hinchcliffe puts up a valiant defence.
  • Roberts, Maloney, Sangster, Hinchcliffe and Stewart discuss the Hinchcliffe era's success and the reasons for it.

Interviewers: Damian Shanahan, Roger Legree
Archive Material & Stills Courtesy of BBC Television, Shaun Lyon, Anthony Mahoney
Camera Assistant: Helen Rayner
Sound Restoration: Mark Ayres
With Thanks to Steven Bagley, Andrew Beech, Richard Bignell, Clayton Hickman, Andrew Pixley, Mark Wyman
Music: Ron Grainer, Dudley Simpson
Lighting Cameraman: John Kelly
Producer/Director: Ed Stradling
(C) BBC Worldwide MMIV

Now and Then (7'49")
Another of the irregular series of features in which location guru Richard Bignell compares the episode to how the locations look today.
Narration: Michael Sheard
Grateful Thanks to: Charles Brett, Yolande & Steve Fothergill
Music: Heathcliff Blair
Producer: Richard Bignell
With Special Thanks To Elisabeth Sladen, Jon Culshaw
BBC Worldwide (C) BBC MMIV

Deleted Scenes (2'55")
Six short sequences, three taken from low-grade B/W Shibadan timecoded recordings, that did not appear in the final episodes, with high quality footage inserted to "frame" the missing pieces.
Archive Material Courtesy of Jan Vincent-Rudzki
BBC Worldwide (C) BBC MMIV

Information Text
By Martin Wiggins.
Oh Mummy
A comedy sketch of Sutekh's life after Pyramids of Mars.
Voice of Sutekh: Gabriel Woolf
Written by & starring Robert Hammond
Also starring Peter West, Kelly Mayne, Jo West
And introducing Thumb-Baby as Neil
Incidental Music by Dudley Simpson
Title Music by Ron Grainer & BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Osirian thanks missiles aimed at Steve Roberts, Ed Stradling, Mike Tucker, Robin Pritchard, John Kelly, Chris Orton, Michael Hammond, Gail Newman, Fred Kirkham, Susan Robert
Catering: Ian's Scones
Graphics & Design: h06 Design
Produced and directed by Matt West
An Auton/Montobronto Films production for BBC Worldwide (C) BBC MMIV

Audio Commentary
Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Philip Hinchcliffe, recorded during 2001.
Photo Gallery (10'45")
99 b/w and colour photos of the filming (including 3 of the local schoolchildren visiting the set), and 3 of the commentary recording.
Pictures Supplied by Colin Young, Derek Handley, BBC Photograph Archive
Easter Egg: Continuity Announcements (2'26")
Highlight 'Oh Mummy' on the special features screen and click left.

Restoration Notes

After the D3 dubs from the original Quads (which no longer existed) were transferred via the Transform PAL Decoder to Digital Betacam, Jonathan Wood graded the episodes to give them a consistent feel. The Snell & Wilcox ARC Converter was used on most of the story to correct geometric errors, and around 6000 blobs and scratches (far more than normal for this era of Doctor Who) were repaired in Scratchbox. Some videodisc-created "reverse" sequences were more heavily dealt with using DVNR as the quality was significantly worse.


26/03/1986 - Omnibus passed as 'U' by the BBFC for the UK
02/09/1994 - Episodic version passed as 'U' by the BBFC for the UK
18/12/2003 - Bonus features passed as 'U' by the BBFC for the UK
18/03/2004 - Passed as 'G' by the OFLC for Aus/NZ - no prior passing has been recorded, despite other releases in the area

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