Time Machine 8: City of Death

Tristram Fane-Saunders 19 November 2013

1979 was a difficult year for Doctor Who. Tom Baker was becoming increasingly difficult to work with. The producers had under-budgeted and the show was short of money, and they had no usable scripts.

Luckily, the BBC had a secret weapon in script-editor Douglas Adams (yes, THAT Douglas Adams, of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame). Here’s Adams’ description of the writing process: “[My co-writer] locked me in his study and hosed me down with whisky and black coffee for a few days, and there was the script.”

And what a script; six Mona Lisas, a hardboiled detective and a 400-million-year-old alien fractured across time. 'City of Death' is beautiful: filmed on the cheap in Paris, every scene is captured in a warm golden light.  It’s also funny. Three decades later, it still stands up as a classic.