Marco Polo (Doctor Who)

From Academic Kids

Template:Doctorwhobox Marco Polo is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in 7 weekly parts from February 22 to April 4, 1964.


The TARDIS lands in Central Asia in 1289, where the Doctor and his companions fall in with Marco Polo as his caravan makes its way along the fabled Silk Road from the Pamir Plateau, across the treacherous Gobi Desert and over the Himalayas to end up in Peking at the height of its imperial power.

Along the way they face many dangers, from natural hazards to assassination attempts from a Mongol warlord. The Doctor strikes up a friendship with Kublai Khan in his summer palace, before eventually departing again in the TARDIS, which has been carried with them across thousands of miles.


  1. The seven episodes of the serial had individual titles. They were, respectively, "The Roof of the World", "The Singing Sands", "Five Hundred Eyes", "The Wall of Lies", "Rider from Shang-Tu", "Mighty Kublai Khan" and "Assassin at Peking".
  2. The Doctor is absent from the whole of episode two (William Hartnell having earned a holiday). When the character returns in episode three, Hartnell's portrayal of the Doctor shows less cantankerousness and more empathy. While occasionally dictatorial and selfish, the Doctor is no longer spiteful or bitter; neither would he contemplate murder in response to threatening situations, as he had done in An Unearthly Child and Inside the Spaceship.
  3. This is the first "pure historical" Doctor Who story, in that there is no science fiction element to it, other than the fact that the Doctor and his companions have travelled to the past. As such, it focuses on education, sometimes to the detriment of entertainment. However, it is highly regarded among Who fans.
  4. None of the video for this episode is known to still exist. "Telesnaps" (images of the show during transmission, photographed from a television set) of episodes 1-3 and 5-7 do exist, and are in the possession of the director, Waris Hussein. The audio soundtrack also still exists, having been recorded "off air" during the original television transmissions. These audio soundtracks were released in a three CD set in 2003, as part of Doctor Who's 40th anniversary. This CD set is unique in containing a map of Cathay (China) as represented during the period of the Doctor's visit to China, and also explaining historical inaccuracies. Further, the first disc in the set contains data as well as audio; the data includes MP3 files of the soundtracks without additional narration (which is provided on the CDs by William Russell, filling in details when action was mostly visual), PDF files of the narration scripts, and computer wallpaper versions of the aforementioned map of Cathay.
  5. In 2002, Loose Cannon Productions, a group of fans who have produced several reconstructions of missing Doctor Who serials using still photos, clips, and surviving audio recordings, released a specially "colourised" reconstructed version of this serial, using the large number of colour photographs taking during the production. Mark Eden, who played Marco Polo, recorded an introduction for this release, including a brief segment where he reprised his role from the serial. Unlike most Doctor Who reconstructions, this project made no use of the existing telesnaps, as they had not yet been made available during the making of the project.

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