The Sontaran Experiment: Doctor Who: Season 12








The Sontaran Experiment SYNOPSIS:

A Sontaran field officer is on Earth of the distant future conducting experiments on any lifeforms found. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry beam down to Earth from Nerva Beacon to see how the Earth has recovered from solar flare activity. The Doctor conducts some repair work on the teleport system while the others explore. Harry falls into a crevasse. Sarah finds the Doctor has vanished but is soon led by a scared astronaut named Roth to a group of his fellows who are holding the Doctor captive. The astronauts led by Vural have crash landed on the desolated Earth.

Harry recovers and finds another astronaut dying from the products of the sontaran experiment. Sarah frees the Doctor with Roth's help but she and Roth are soon captured by service robot and brought before Sontaran Field Major Styre. Styre's experiments on the astronauts are to find out if humans pose a threat to their proposed invasion of Earth.

They plan to use Earth as a strategic base in the eternal war against their enemies the Rutan. The Doctor rescues Sarah from sontaran experiment into the effects of fear on the human psyche. They plan to release Vural and the others now captured by the Styre for further tests on the human physique. The Doctor intends to distract Styre by challenging him to single combat while Sarah releases the prisoners and Harry conducts a bit of sabotage on the alien's ship.

Return to top of page

The Sontaran Experiment SERIAL DETAILS:

Episode Broadcast Run Time Viewership (In Millions)
Part One 22-Feb-75 24:27 11
Part Two 1-Mar-75 25:00 10.5

Return to top of page

The Sontaran Experiment CAST & CREW


The Doctor:
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith)
Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan)

Guest Stars:

Kevin Lindsay - Styre / The Marshal
Donald Douglas - Vural
Glyn Jones — Krans
Peter Walshe — Erak
Peter Rutherford — Roth
Terry Walsh — Zake
Brian Ellis — Prisoner

Production Staff for Serial 4B:

Writer - Bob Baker & Dave Martin
Director - Rodney Bennett
Script editor - Robert Holmes
Producer - Philip Hinchcliffe

Return to top of page

The Sontaran Experiment REVIEWS


The Sontaran Experiment sees.............The return of the 2 parter! After 10 years it's back but should we applaud? Oooooo nah! It's a nice filler and a good continuation to the Ark In Space but that's about all. The OB video still looks really good in this one and makes the moors of Dartmoor look extremely inhospitable and bleak, a good locale for post apocalypic Earth. Also it's a nice change that the Tardis doesn't land here rather it's the Tardis crew taking a transmat onto the planet. Much like part one of the Ark, it features the crew wandering round and investigating their surroundings.Although they get split up quick and do their own thing.
Styre is excellent, good to see the sontarans back so soon, though he's really only in it for part 2 and nice to see there are white sontarans too. The sontaran mask is still brilliant but not as convincingly alien as the last one...and they just get worse every time the potato heads make an appearance from now on. The landscape is bleak and scary, which is more than can be said for the Sarth Effirikan human colonists who are instantly forgettable as there isn't enough screen time and the service robot is...well embarrassing. Seen more convincing robots at a Lego expo.
Unlike yourself Grob I'd die with laughter rather than run. Pity Tom was injured as it marred what could have been a brilliant fight scene but the director makes the most of his material and the torture scenes are good. One lone alien seems unstoppable thanks to Hinchcliffe. Mines a 6.5/10


The Sontaran Experiment:-It may be small, but it packs a pretty neat punch. Nope; not Tim's knob. Its the Sontaran Experiment. Sure, it comes in two parts (again, like Tim's knob) and is shot entirely on video in one small location but its what you do with it that counts (again, actually no. Its not.) Dartmoor's bleak and desolate moors can just about pass for a post-apocalypic Earth. A few Earth dudes are already there (which doesn't really tie in with the previous story, or does it?) and a lone Sontaran has plonked his giant golf ball right on their doorstep. I reckon if the Sontarans are so bloody mighty they should have just off-ed the Earth guys and taken over by force. They'd be done in an afternoon and have time to play cricket.
Good old Philip and Bob chuck in a great torture scene and even some nice deaths (death by thirst is a great one) and when Styre deflates at the end spooked me as a kid, although now it looks like a balloon going down at one of Tim and Liz's in-house orgies. Styre's robot looks really good (well, I think so. Other people seem to loathe it). Its got a great whirring noise and those two little pincher things on the front and those giant claws. Imagine one of those chasing you around the countryside - I'd fall apart before it did! Of course, Tom went and broke his collar bone here and some of the lousy staged fight scenes and Tom being filmed while doing nothing does let the climax down a whack.
But what could they do? Well, I suppose tell Tom NOT to go jumping around the rocks would be a good start.... Sarah and Harry are good too, although Sarah seems a lot more of a screamer in this one while Harry goes off to do the dirty work of wrecking Styre's golf ball. Really Doctor; Sarah has been around the galaxy half a dozen times by now; she should have been the one to save the day.
Short and sweet with a few major plot holes. But it does look good. 7/10


yes the Sontaran Experiment was just a little two parter.What was the last two parter? I thought this might have been the first one? Oh yeah, The Rescue and Edge of Destruction... OK, but I'm pretty sure this is the only one for the 70s? I wonder why they went with a 2 parter for the return of the Sontarans? OK, I've found my answer :- This was the first two-part serial to be broadcast since 1965's The Rescue and the last until 1982's Black Orchid. It only became a two-part story after new producer Philip Hinchcliffe realized that two six-part serials had been commissioned for the season. He decided to split one of them, creating the four-part studio-bound Ark in Space, and this all-outdoor story - but keeping to a single budget and director for both.
And it is definitely the first good 2 parter! Anyway, yeah, this one's OK. It's a nice continuation from Ark in Space - and I was relieved to find out that the Sontaran Experiment wasn't the one where you burn magnesium ribbon. That was about the only experiment we did at school... and the thing that made it even crapper than it sounds was that you weren't allowed to look at it! I think that's one of the reasons I hated science.OK, where were we... oh yes, Sontaran Experiment. It's a nice little story and it serves two good purposes 1) fitting in nicely after Ark in Space and 2) Furthering the Sontaran back story / saga. The Sontaran's wanting to inhabit Earth for strategic purposes for their war with the Rutans is a nice idea... maybe being only 2 parts it doesn't seem as threatening though... but then again, there's only the one Sontaran here experimenting, so maybe it's not that threatening yet.
The robots with shooty out handcuffs are a little bit shit... but still kind of cool... well, they seemed to do the job anyway! We also get to see that this Doctor, like his predecessor, isn't going to shy away from a fight... well, they do have the same stuntman I guess... and now he looks more like the Doctor! And as for the experimenting... it seemed like they were just waving a big spanner around over the ground... a two man spanner mind you... maybe they should have just burnt some magnesium ribbon - could have been just as effective!
All up, an OK story... but maybe just a bit fillerish (even if we do get "the big 3") in a row for the first and only time!

Return to top of page

Return from The Sontaran Experiment to Dr Who Classic Series


Return to the Old TV Shows home page

Screen Shots:

The Sontaran Experiment Titles

The Sontaran Experiment the Doctor

The Sontaran Experiment Harry and Sarah

The Sontaran Experiment helmeted Sontaran

The Sontaran Experiment expedition crew

The Sontaran Experiment service robot

The Sontaran Experiment doctor on video

The Sontaran Experiment sontaran close up

The Sontaran Experiment Harry

The Sontaran Experiment laying an ambush

The Sontaran Experiment Dr Who

The Sontaran Experiment Field Major Styre

The Sontaran Experiment Sarah

The Sontaran Experiment astronauts

The Sontaran Experiment robot immobilized

The Sontaran Experiment Styre with gun

The Sontaran Experiment Sarah and Roth

The Sontaran Experiment Doctor battles Styre

The Sontaran Experiment Tardis crew 1975

The Sontaran Experiment defeated