The Ribos Operation: Doctor Who: Season 16








The Ribos Operation SYNOPSIS:

The TARDIS is taken over and the Doctor is introduced to the white guardian and charged with collecting for him the six segments of the Key To Time disguised and scattered throughout space and time. He is given Time Lady Romanadvoratrelundar as his and K-9's new assistant and a device to locate each segment. The first segment is located on Ribos, an icy, medieval planet.

An Earth Conman Garron is trying to sell Ribos to exiled tyrant, the Graff Vynda-K. He completes the deal by arranging to plant a rare and valuable mineral, Jethrik, among the Ribos royal jewels. Garron's assistant Unstoffe steals the Graff Vynda-K's deposit and the Jethrik from the crown jewels room. The Graff finds out the deception taking Garron and his assumed accomplices, the Doctor and Romana hostage.

Using the Graff's listening device Garron warns Unstoffe and a local, Binro leads Unstoffe into the Ribos catacombs for refuge. The Doctor, Romana and Garron escape and go the catacombs to get Unstoffe. The Graff and his men pursue them but all are sealed in when Ribos guards collapse the cave entrance. The travellers have to get the Jethrik disguised Key to time segment before the Graff finds and kills Garron and Unstoffe.

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The Ribos Operation SERIAL DETAILS:

Episode Broadcast Run Time Viewership (In Millions)
Part One 2-Sep-78 25:02 8.3
Part Two 9-Sep-78 24:46 8.1
Part Three 16-Sep-78 24:42 7.9
Part Four 23-Sep-78 24:50 8.2

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The Ribos Operation CAST & CREW

The Doctor:
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)

John Leeson (K-9 Mk. II)
Mary Tamm (Romana I)

Guest Stars:
Cyril Luckham — The Guardian
Iain Cuthbertson — Garron
Nigel Plaskitt — Unstoffe
Paul Seed — Graff Vynda-K
Robert Keegan — Sholakh
Timothy Bateson — Binro
Anne Tirard — The Seeker
Prentis Hancock — Shrieve Captain
Oliver Maguire, John Hamill — Shrieves

Production Staff for Serial 5A:
Writer - Chris Boucher
Director - George Spenton-Foster
Script editor - Anthony Read
Producer - Graham Williams

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The Ribos Operation REVIEWS


All things Ribos.

Yeah it's a great concept the Key To Time, and starts really well, peaks in the middle this season then trails off at the end. But unlike series 15 and like Seinfeld there is at least something to really like in every episode. The premise itself means that we're hopefully not going to visit planet Earth for a while.

The first bit where the Doctor is summoned by the White Guardian is great and his Southern gentleman style is nice and offbeat. Then we get a vision in white - Romana! Even now her first leggy entrance in a white ball gown she looks gorgeous. Plus she has intelligence exceeding her looks and matching the Doctor's and a haughty arrogance. Finally one of his own people is a companion! Don't remember her screaming in the Ribos Operation though which leads me onto the next paragraph...

...don't remember too much about this one after it got to Ribos. Had a great Gothic air to it, with the cobbled streets, snow, big buildings and sort of Russian outfits and coats the inhabitants wore and yeah the catacombs were nice and shadowy and candle lit with a giant lizard prowling around, which looked interesting but don't remember too much of the plot. The Ribos Operation is again written by Robert Holmes with great dialogue and some well rounded and acted characters all playing their own game, with the Swindler guy and his apprentice partner the Doctor has to outwit and the Royal prince the Graf Vynda-K (ok I looked up his name) who eventually the Doctor, Romana and the swindler have to outwit, it's all about chasing a piece of Jethryk (great name for a intergalactic gold nugget.)

Although it's a nice throwback to the Gothic style of the Hinchcliffe era it's mostly talk fest drama and no action although two bits that really stick out in the memory are the Tom's comic mockery of being slapped in the face by the Graf's glove, grabbing it off him and slapping him back, something that guy was not expecting and when the stupid white faced witch woman or whatever finally gets shot by the prince as she annoyed the living piss out of me. Give it 6.5/10 too


I refuse to let Goldby submit another review before I do.

THE RIBOS OPERATIONWell, it looks great. Pity I remember bugger all about it which leads me to wonder whether I should have let Goldby review first so I can copy the more important details from him.

Okay, it introduces (in this order) K9 Mark II, the White Guardian, the Black Guardian, the Key to Time and Romana Mark I and from thereon I go a bit rusty on details. The whole Key to Time is a pretty gobsmacking idea which sadly after its introduction is never followed up in any meaningful way - all the way to the end of the season. However, good on yer Graeme for coming up with a novel idea of getting the Doctor and co around the universe and into some adventures. The Key to Time holds the power and equilibrium and wholeness of the universe together. Its scattered throughout time and space cos if actor Valentine Dyall gets his hands on it then everyone is up Fuck River without a paddle. As a kid, this was an amazing idea to me although its a pity they never did anything with it.

Leaving aside K9 Mark II who is just as a pain in the Jill Watson as K9 Mark I we have the brand new and haughty Romana. She's every inch the Doctor's intellectual equal (just not the experience side of it) and she even has her own sonic screwdriver. Mary Tamm is very good in her first story - but like the Key to Time itself - its a pity she was never developed. In fact, by the end of part one she is back on par with most female companions and screaming for help.

Its once we get to Ribos that my memory goes a bit wonky. I remember that it looks great with its Russian decor and snow and old buildings and cobblestone roads (that sound like wood) and even the catacombs underneath the city look impressive with their dark corners and little candles everywhere. Sadly its the characters I don't remember or who they were or what they did. Its not down to Robert Holmes though cos from other opinions its actually - although very wordy - a good script. On the other hand, I HAVE seen the Ribos Operation three times (the last being the mammoth ABC four year entire series screening) and I still remember nothing much about it. But Romana is good and the sets and visuals are very nice. And I remember the ending of episode three as being really cool as well.

6.5/10 - although if I get the box set I'll probably alter that score!


The Ribos Operation is the last one I saw in the recent ABC screenings, before getting sidetracked and then overloaded with tapes to catch up on... I'm hoping to catch up on the rest of the key to time this week.

Yep, it's very wordy. My earliest memory of the Ribos Operation was speaking to my Dad about it when I was a kid. My sister was in hospital and I was staying with my Grandparents and I asked him what had happened in Dr Who... he said "they talked a lot"... he was right!

I do quite like this one though. We start with an excellent introduction to the key to time. Whilst we're still not really sure what it does (other than restore balance - what is it, a see saw?), it does, for the first time in a while, give the Doctor a bit of a purpose. He's been looking after UNIT, battling the Master, getting away from UNIT, trying to get Sarah back to...well... just sort of drifting a bit... I think he works better with a purpose (even if the key payoff isn't that great - mind you, I remember nothing of Armageddon Factor, apart from what I read on the toilet yesterday).

The actual Ribos story is probably how comedy can be worked into a kind of dark setting, and tell a good "gothicish" tale... You get a nasty land buyingy person, throw a likeable Hale and Pace duo into the middle of the plot, then have an interesting looking planet... with a bit of a Monster that guards things.

OK, so my memory of the Ribos Operation isn't that great either, but I did enjoy it - and the plot is good fun, and a little bit nasty (especially at the end when he blows the bloke up!), and despite all the talking, it moves pretty quick... a good start to the key journey.


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Screen Shots:

The Ribos Operation Titles

The Ribos Operation the Doctor and Romana

The Ribos Operation Jethryk

The Ribos Operation k9 fires

The Ribos Operation the Graf

The Ribos Operation shrivenzale

The Ribos Operation Garron

The Ribos Operation the Ribos Crown jewels

The Ribos Operation Unstoffe

The Ribos Operation the Key To Time

The Ribos Operation the White Guardian in close up

The Ribos Operation Garron and Graf

The Ribos Operation Guard captain

The Ribos Operation the Doctor and K9

The Ribos Operation Romana

The Ribos Operation Garron and Unstoffe

The Ribos Operation the Seeker 2

The Ribos Operation the Graf Vynda Kay and Sholakh

The Ribos Operation Unstoffe and Binro

The Ribos Operation in the snow

The Ribos Operation Guard Captain and Garron

The Ribos Operation the doctor and Romana2