Pondering about Pyramids of Mars


Rewatching Pyramids of Mars for the umpteenth time, a couple of things worried me in episode three.  Of course, given that Robert Holmes had to cobble the story together at very short notice (and had clearly run out of steam by episode four) it isn’t too surprising that the odd plothole remained ….

After Sarah and the Doctor discover Lawrence Scarman’s body, Sarah is perturbed that the Doctor seems unmoved by Lawrece’s violent death.  He responds that Lawrence isn’t Sutekh’s only victim, counting out the others. “Four men, Sarah. Five, if you include Professor Scarman himself.”

Hmm, okay.  Lawrence, Doctor Warlock, Ernie Clements (“murdering swine!”), Namin and Collins make five, six if you include Professor Scarman.  My first thought was that the Doctor was unaware of one of their deaths, or maybe he didn’t count Namin since he was a baddy?

And why did Marcus Scarman, after murdering his brother, gently prop him up into the rocking chair with such obvious care and attention?  It creates a shock moment but doesn’t make much sense.

Just how many service robots were there? In actuality there were three, so if that was also the true figure why didn’t Professor Scarman immediately twig that that the faux-Mummy (containing a grumpy Tom Baker) was an imposter? Two robots had been guarding the pyramid and Scarman had seen a disassembled third just before killing Marcus.

And I’m not even going to ponder exactly when Sarah became so efficient with a rifle.

Not that any of this matters as Pyramids of Mars is still great (if rather nasty) fun. Can it really be nearly thirty years since I bought it on sell-through VHS? And a mere twenty three years since I taped the episodic repeat from BBC2, enabling me to see the scenes snipped from the official release for the first time. Time passages ….

5 thoughts on “Pondering about Pyramids of Mars

  1. In the script Ernie Clements isn’t killed he simply runs away. Paddy Russell noticed a plot hole as to where does he go? So he is killed and clearly no one amended the dialogue. However that’s a minor quibble as PoM is riddled with plot holes.


      • When Terrance Dicks did the novelisation he tidied up a bit of the story but it still has a number of plot holes


      • That’s no doubt a consequence of Robert Holmes having to put something together with very little time.

        Doctor Who of course has a long history of this sort of thing happening, sometimes (here, Talons, City of Death) things turn out pretty well whilst other times (Invasion of Time) it’s not so good ….

        Its easy to argue in retrospect that Holmes was asking for trouble by commissioning Lewis Griefer, a writer who by all accounts didn’t have a terribly firm grasp about exactly what the series was about.

        But on the other hand you can’t blame Holmes for attempting to recruit writers outside of the normal pool (but it’s often something that ends in tears, as it did here).

        Pyramids may have its flaws (such as why Scarman has to return to England to build the rocket, wouldn’t it have been easier to stay in Egypt?) but then there’s very few Doctor Who stories that don’t have similar lapses in logic.

        If you enjoy the ride then you tend to accept the elements that don’t work, but if a story doesn’t impress, for whatever reason, then the plotholes can become more problematic.


      • I can possibly theorise a logical reason as to why the rocket is built in England. Scarman lives in an estate home which is quite isolated and can be operated on in much seclusion (in fact it is only Dr Warlock who guesses something is off by his prolonged absence, Lawrence seems fairly blasé about it), and building the rocket in Egypt would attraction. The question is why on earth is Sutekh buried with everything he needs to escape? Why send Namin instead of his servant as he attracts unwanted attention?

        Agreed that getting writers outside the usual pool often caused problems, something which became a serious issue with JNT and Saward which can’t have helped with their antagonist relationship.

        Liked by 1 person

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