The Myth Makers

The Myth Makers
020 – The Myth Makers
Doctor Who serial
Myth Makers.jpg
King Priam and Cressida (Vicki)
Writer Donald Cotton
Director Michael Leeston-Smith
Script editor Donald Tosh
Producer John Wiles
Executive producer(s) None
Production code U
Series Season 3
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing All episodes
Originally broadcast October 16–November 6, 1965
← Preceded by Followed by →
"Mission to the Unknown" The Daleks' Master Plan

The Myth Makers is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from October 16 to November 6, 1965. The story is set in Homeric Troy, based on Iliad by Homer. This serial sees the last appearance of Maureen O'Brien as Vicki and the introduction of Adrienne Hill as the Doctor's newest companion, Katarina.



The Greek army has besieged the ancient walled city of Troy for 10 years. The war began when Helen of Sparta abandoned her husband Menelaus for the Trojan Prince Paris, son of King Priam. Menelaus’ brother, Agamemnon, commands the Greek army that surrounds Troy and has besieged it for a decade, seeking to increase his power through a war based on this adulterous liaison.

On the plains just outside Troy the Greek warrior Achilles slays the Trojan Hector, another son of King Priam, when the materialization of the TARDIS disturbs Hector’s concentration. When the Doctor emerges from within the TARDIS, Achilles believes him to be the god Zeus disguised as an old beggar, and insists he accompany him to the Greek encampment. En route they encounter the sailor warrior Odysseus (from the Odyssey), who travels with them to the Greek camp. When they arrive, Agamemnon insists the Doctor, being Zeus, help him against the Trojans, and will not let him depart until his aid is forthcoming. Odysseus is more sceptical, disbelieving Achilles, and branding the Doctor a Trojan spy.

The Doctor’s companions Vicki and Steven have watched him being led away. Vicki still has an injured ankle from a previous adventure in Galaxy 4, so Steven ventures out alone to try and help the Doctor. He is spotted heading for the Trojan camp by Cyclops, a mute servant of Odysseus, who reports this to his master. Odysseus soon catches Steven and takes him to the Greek camp as well, where the two prisoners must pretend they do not know each other in order to maintain the Doctor's guise as Zeus. The Doctor eventually persuades the Greeks to spare Steven until the next morning when he, as Zeus himself, will strike down "the spy" with a heavenly thunderbolt. Moments later Cyclops returns to the Greek camp, and through sign language communicates that Zeus’ temple (the TARDIS) has disappeared from the plains of Troy.

The next morning, the Doctor and Steven travel with the Greeks to the plains and discover the TARDIS has indeed disappeared. The Doctor confesses that he and Steven are indeed friends and not gods in disguise. Odysseus decides to let them live, but demands that their powers be used to destroy the Trojans within two days, or they will be killed. Steven privately suggests to the Doctor that they use the Trojan Horse of myth, but the Doctor is reluctant to do so.

The TARDIS has been taken within the walled city of Troy as a prize and is presented to King Priam by his son Paris, but Priam is unimpressed and more interested in getting revenge for the death of his son Hector. The blue police box is denounced by Priam’s daughter, the prophetess Cassandra, as dangerous - she has dreamt that the Greeks will leave a gift on the plain which will contain soldiers to attack the Trojans. She demands that the TARDIS be burnt and a pyre is constructed around it, but before it can be set alight, Vicki emerges from within the TARDIS and this is taken as a sign from the gods. The King and Paris are enchanted by her, dressed as she is in a wonderful gown, and the King renames her Cressida and makes her a favourite at court. This enrages Cassandra, who believes Vicki to be a rival prophet.

Priam sends Paris out on to the plains once more to avenge Hector. Paris calls for his rival Achilles to present himself, and Steven manages to persuade the Greeks to send him in Greek armor instead, hoping he can get himself injured and then taken prisoner to Troy to search for Vicki. Adopting the name Diomede, Steven engages Paris in battle and his ruse works. When he arrives, Vicki greets him with his real name and this is taken by Cassandra as a sign they are both spies. She calls for soldiers to kill them.

Paris intervenes to save Steven and Vicki, prompting Priam to ask Vicki to foretell how the war might be ended soon, as he is tired of conflict. Unless she helps him end the war, however, he warns she will die the following day. Steven and Vicki are taken to the cells to prompt her into prophecy. Whilst there Steven tells Vicki that the Doctor has a similar deadline to win the war for the Greeks. Cyclops appears near Steven’s cell and is given a message for the Doctor, asking him to avoid an attack for two days so that they are not killed for failing Troy. The next visitor to the cells is Priam’s youngest son, Troilus, who has formed a romantic attachment to “Cressida.” Vicki is equally attracted to him, and seems successful in persuading him to try to get them released. Elsewhere, Cyclops is slain before he can pass on his message.

The Doctor has now come under such pressure to help the Greeks he eventually proposes the use of a wooden horse to Odysseus. The construct will be left on the plains outside Troy and filled with Greeks, who hope the horse will be taken within the city. Agamemnon approves the plan, but it is also decided the Doctor will be among those inside the horse. When day breaks, it is spotted by the Trojans and dragged inside their city.

The Trojans respond to the seeming disappearance of the Greek army by rejoicing, and Priam has Vicki released in thanks for her supposed good work. Steven, however, is kept in prison due to Troilus’ jealousy. The Trojans dismiss Cassandra’s prophecies (in the myths, Cassandra was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, but then cursed never to be believed).

In the revelry Vicki slips away and rescues Steven from the dungeons. They then head for the square, where a vast crowd has assembled to greet the giant wooden horse, and worry about what will happen when the Greeks hidden inside disembark. Cassandra’s handmaiden, Katarina, arrives in the square to find Vicki for her mistress. This prompts Vicki to leave Steven in a hiding place (his escape in Greek armour having now been noticed) while she mingles with the royal party that has just arrived. She then heads off to the palace where she meets Troilus and, aware of the carnage to come, she tries to persuade him to flee with her from the city by telling him Diomede, his rival, is on the plain. He is persuaded to venture outside.

Night falls again, and under the cover of darkness the Greek navy returns to the Trojan coast, while the Doctor, Odysseus and the Greek soldiers exit the horse. The city is soon besieged and the populace butchered by the Greeks. Priam, Paris, and the proven Cassandra are soon the prisoners of Odysseus. The two men are slain and Cassandra is kept alive as a prize for Agamemnon himself. She is taken away in bondage, prophesying Odysseus that he won't see home for another 10 years and death for his people. Out on the plain Troilus finds Achilles and, staggered that the Greek army is back again, engages Achilles and slays him, though he is wounded in the process.

The Doctor finds Vicki in the carnage and they hide in the TARDIS while Katarina, who has been trailing Vicki, obliges the Doctor by searching for Steven. She finds him in battle with a Trojan soldier and he is badly wounded, but she helps him return to the Doctor’s "blue temple". When Katarina and Steven reach it, both the Doctor and Vicki seem very tense. Odysseus arrives and the Doctor takes the opportunity to dematerialise the TARDIS with Steven and Katarina on board. Vicki, however, has slipped away with his blessing. She journeys on to the plains where she finds Troilus and they declare their love. Moments later Troilus’ cousin Aeneas arrives with reinforcements and helps them escape the area.

Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor is very concerned that Steven’s wound is now infected and is getting worse. Katarina believes they have already died and are now en route to the afterlife. The Doctor knows they need to secure the right medication to save Steven and hopes their next landing will provide it.


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"Temple of Secrets" 16 October 1965 (1965-10-16) 24:45 8.3 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Small Prophet, Quick Return" 23 October 1965 (1965-10-23) 24:43 8.1 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Death of a Spy" 30 October 1965 (1965-10-30) 25:39 8.7 Only stills and/or fragments exist
"Horse of Destruction" 6 November 1965 (1965-11-06) 24:25 8.3 Only stills and/or fragments exist
  • Originally, the titles of all the episodes were intended by Dennis Spooner to be puns (as was that of Episode 2), including: "Deus Ex Machina" and "Is There A Doctor In The Horse?". These titles were vetoed by the BBC, but the title of Episode 2 was allowed to remain only at script editor Donald Tosh's insistence.
  • Donald Cotton pulled material for his scripts from his extensive knowledge of classical and medieval literature, including the epics of Homer, the plays of Aeschylus and Euripides, Virgil's Aeneid, and Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.
  • William Hartnell suffered a bereavement while working on the story: the death of his Aunt Bessie, who had looked after him during his troubled childhood. Unfortunately, the tight recording schedules prevented Hartnell from taking time off to attend her funeral.
  • This was the first story produced by new series producer John Wiles, replacing the original producer, Verity Lambert, in the role.

Cast notes

In print

A novelisation of this serial, written by Donald Cotton, was published by Target Books in April 1985. There are significant differences between the novel and the televised story; the novel is narrated by Homer, who also plays the part of the mute servant Cyclops from the episode. The cliffhanger ending of Steven being wounded is also gone. An unabridged reading of the novelisation by actor Stephen Thorne was released on CD in April 2008 by BBC Audiobooks.

Doctor Who book
Book cover
The Myth Makers
Series Target novelisations
Release number 97
Writer Donald Cotton
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
ISBN 0-426-20170-1
Release date 12 September 1985
Preceded by '
Followed by '

CD and DVD releases

  • The soundtracks to these episodes exist and have been released on CD with linking narration provided by Peter Purves.
  • The only extant clips – eleven 8mm film recordings made by fans off-air - were made available on the Lost in Time DVD boxset release.
  • In the 1980s, Reeltime Pictures launched a series of home video releases featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Doctor Who. This long-running series of tapes (which later included the first independently-produced Doctor Who spin-offs) was entitled Myth Makers after this story.


  1. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Myth Makers". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  2. ^ "The Myth Makers". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2008-05-18). "The Myth Makers". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 

External links


Target novelisation

Audio Adaptation

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