"You and I exist in a special relationship with time, you know... perpetual outsiders."
The Doctor
"City of Death"
Series Doctor Who
Season 17, Episode 5
Doctor Who 17x05 000
Air date September 29th, 1979
Writers David Fisher
Douglas Adams
Graham Williams
Director Michael Hayes
Producers Graham Williams
Starring Tom Baker
Lalla Ward
Episode guide
"Destiny of the Daleks" (Part 4)
"City of Death" (Part 2)

"City of Death" (Part 1) is the first part of the "City of Death" storyline, which ran through episodes 5-8 in series 17 of Doctor Who. The episodes originally aired on BBC1 from September 29th to October 20th, 1979. It was directed by Michael Hayes and written by David Fisher, Douglas Adams and Graham Williams, all credited under the single pseudonym of David Agnew. In this episode, the Doctor and Romana come to Paris, France on holiday and tour the sights. The Doctor experiences a time slip and becomes involved in a mystery concerning the Louvre and an aristocratic criminal mastermind named Count Carlos Scarlioni.

Synopsis Edit

The Distant Past Edit

Millions of years ago, an alien Jagaroth named Scaroth attempts to leave the planet's surface in his space vessel. The ship is malfunctioning and chatter comes over the radio warning him to abort. Scaroth continues to work the ship's engines until it begins to hover above the planet's surface, at which point it explodes, seemingly killing him.

The Present Edit

Doctor and Romana at the Louvre

The Doctor and Romana at the Louvre.

In the present, the Doctor and Romana arrive in Paris, France and take in the sights. They stop at the Eiffel Tower, then take the Metro across town and stop for lunch at a café.

Meanwhile, a scientist named Fyodor Nikolai Kerensky operates out of a hidden laboratory belonging to a nobleman named Count Carlos Scarlioni. Scarlioni observes Kerensky's work, but the nervous scientist complains about his lack of funding for his experiments. Unimpressed with Kerensky's concerns, Scarlioni hands him one million francs, confident that this will be more than enough to allow Kerensky to continue his work.

At the restaurant, the Doctor takes note of a patron who is sketching Romana's likeness. He tries to keep Romana from turning to look at him, knowing that by doing so, she would be disrupting the man's work, but Romana looks anyway and the artist, frustrated that he has lost her pose, crumples up his sketch and throws it on the floor before walking away. Romana reaches over to pick up the paper when both the Doctor and she suddenly experience a time slip - a moment of time that replays itself. They view the entire affair with the artist for a second time before being able to observe the sketch. The picture is that of Romana's head, but the face has been replaced with a cracked clock face. The Doctor muses, "... a crack in time." and grows concerned. He dismisses his reservations however, noting that they are on holiday and has little concern for the time slip.

With art on his mind, the Doctor decides to take Romana to the Louvre. He shows her the Mona Lisa, but Romana has difficulty appreciating the artistry behind the piece. The Doctor is slightly offended by Romana's lack of culture. While there, they experience a second time slip. The Doctor takes note of the people in the room and pretends to faint, falling across the lap of a woman named Countess Scarlioni. Several people rush to attend them, one of which is a man in a trench coat named Duggan. The Doctor rights himself and Romana and he leave.

Later, the two settle down and the Doctor reveals that he deliberately fell into the woman so that he could purloin her bracelet (which he then deftly slipped into Romana's pocket). The bracelet is actually a micromeson scanner - a device capable of scanning and analyzing all of the security equipment installed at the Louvre. Romana observes that the bracelet is too advanced for Earth technology and suspects that it might be alien in origin. The Doctor wonders if the woman intended on stealing the Mona Lisa.

Confrontation Edit

Duggan suddenly appears and points a gun at the Doctor's back. He marches them inside another restaurant where he reveals that he is a detective. He suspects that the two are working for an underworld figure named Scarlioni and pointedly asks them, "What's Scarlioni's angle?" Neither the Doctor nor Romana have any idea what he's talking about. The Doctor asks Romana if she has ever heard of Scarlioni's angle, but she confesses that she has never been very good at geometry. As the two banter back and forth driving Duggan to even greater heights of frustration, a group of thugs enter the establishment and point a gun at the Doctor, demanding him to surrender the bracelet he had stolen. Given little choice but to comply, the Doctor slips the bracelet over one of their gun barrels and the men take their leave. Duggan thinks that the Doctor staged the entire affair.

At Scarlioni's estate, the Countess informs her husband of the bracelet's theft. He is outraged, but she assures him that she has already taken measures to recover it. Her men return with the bracelet and Carlos sends a back-up team to abduct the Doctor, Romana and Duggan.

Afterward, Carlos Scarlioni goes down into a private room beneath the estate. Standing before a mirror, he tears away the latex coating of his human face, revealing the visage of a Jagaroth beneath it.

Cast Edit

Principal Cast Edit

Actor Role
Tom Baker The Doctor
Lalla Ward Romana

Guest Stars Edit

Actor Role
Julian Glover Carlos Scarlioni / Scaroth
Catherine Schell Countess Scarlioni
Tom Chadbon Duggan / Jagaroth voice
David Graham Fyodor Nikolai Kerensky
Kevin Flood Hermann
Pamela Stirling L'ouvre guide

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • David Fisher, Douglas Adams and Graham Williams are all credited under the collective pseudonym of David Agnew in this episode. Originally, David Fisher was contracted to write the entire teleplay, but he was undergoing a divorce at the time and was unable to complete the serial. As a result, Graham Williams and Douglas Adams rewrote it under the David Agnew by-line.
  • "City of Death" is story number 105; production code number 5H.

Quotes Edit

  • The Doctor: Are you suggesting those men were in my employ?
  • Duggan: Yes.
  • The Doctor: I don't know if you noticed, but he was pointing a gun at me. Anyone in my employ who behaved like that, I'd sack him on the spot.


  • Romana: You mean an alien is trying to steal the Mona Lisa?
  • The Doctor: It is a very pretty painting.


  • Duggan: What's Scarlioni's angle?
  • The Doctor: Scarlioni's Angle? Never heard of it. [ To Romana ] You ever heard of Scarlioni's Angle?
  • Romana: No, I was never any good at geometry.



  • The Doctor: What Paris has... It has an ethos. A life. It has...
  • Romana: A bouquet?
  • The Doctor: A spirit all of its own. Like a wine, it has...
  • Romana: A bouquet.
  • The Doctor: It has a bouquet. Like a good wine. You have to choose one of the vintage years, of course.
  • Romana: What year is this?
  • The Doctor: Well, yes. It's 1979. More of a table wine shall we say.

See also Edit


The World of Doctor Who

Doctor Who miscellaneous

External Links Edit

"City of Death"
This is the second multi-part storyline from series seventeen of Doctor Who and is divided into four chapters.