Doctor Who - The Pirate Planet (c) BBC
Doctor Who – The Pirate Planet (c) BBC

The Pirate Planet: Part Two

First Broadcast October 7th, 1978 @ 6.20pm (7.4m viewers)

‘The Pirate Planet’ saw the Doctor Who debut of writer Douglas Adams. He would gain significant notoriety for creating ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. This began with a radio series, with novels and a television series following in quick succession. In 2005 a film adaptation was also released starring Martin Freeman. In fact, his work on this Doctor Who story overlapped with the commissioning of the original ‘Hitchhikers’ radio series.

Doctor Who - The Pirate Planet (c) BBC
Doctor Who – The Pirate Planet (c) BBC

Douglas Adams’ refreshingly humorous take on the sci-fi genre made him stand out as a writer. He still remains perhaps the most successful writer to contribute to Doctor Who and fondly regarded throughout the world. For instance in American sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’, Leonard’s favourite book as a child was indeed ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’. Adams’ intelligence, wit and writing skill would see him offered the role of script editor on Doctor Who’s Seventeenth Season. The regular, guaranteed income of the job appealed to Douglas Adams who was, by his own admission, broke before ‘Hitchhikers’ took off.

Doctor Who - The Pirate Planet (c) BBC
Doctor Who – The Pirate Planet (c) BBC

During 1979 Adams and Producer Graham Williams produced the classic story ‘City of Death’. A continuing fan-favourite it includes the most watched episode of Doctor Who ever. He would also be the author of the ultimately incomplete story ‘Shada’. Due to industrial action at the BBC, the production was abandoned and was not broadcast. The story has since developed a mystique as a great ‘lost’ Doctor Who story. Several years later Adams accidentally signed to give permission for a reconstruction to be released on video, now available to purchase on DVD. Sadly Douglas Adams passed away in 2001, at the age of only 49, but still remains an inspiration to writers today.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

This first story, ‘The Pirate Planet’, showcases Douglas Adams’ creativity and lateral thinking. His ability to create new and refreshing concepts is best displayed by the idea of a planet capable of materialising around another to plunder its resources. The moment the Doctor uncovers the truth about the planet Zanak occurs towards the end of this episode. Adam’s also creates engaging characters such as the double act of the cyborg Captain and Mr Fibuli and is therefore, a fine example of his very best work.


Doctor Who – Tom Baker
Romana – Mary Tamm
Voice of K9 – John Leeson
Mentiad – Bernard Finch
Captain – Bruce Purchase
Balaton – Ralph Michael
Mr. Fibuli – Andrew Robertson
Mula – Primi Townsend
Kimus – David Warwick
Nurse – Rosalind Lloyd
Guard – Adam Kurakin


Writer – Douglas Adams
Director – Pennant Roberts
Producer – Graham Williams

Also First Aired On This Day…

  • The Abominable Snowman: Episode Two


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