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Future Imperfect

The Masters of Luxor is one of Doctor Who’s most intriguing lost stories, a philosophical science-fiction adventure that might have set the nascent series on a very different path…
A publicity shot of Jacqueline Hill as Barbara from the 1964 story Inside the Spaceship (aka The Edge of Destruction).

Having narrowly escaped a perilous experience in the Stone Age, the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara find themselves in a new adventure at the opposite extreme – a civilisation far in advance of their own.

Arriving on a desolate planet, the TARDIS is drawn into an enormous futuristic citadel and its power drains away. The stranded travellers explore their unfamiliar surroundings and find the place bereft of organic life. Instead it’s inhabited only by an army of robots, who at first appear content to provide hospitality for their visitors, mistaking them for the mysterious ‘Masters of Luxor’. It soon becomes apparent, however, that the city hides a dark secret, one that will challenge all the TARDIS crew’s assumptions about the nature of life and consciousness.

Such was the vision for Doctor Who’s first ‘future’ scenario, as imagined by the series’ first credited writer, Anthony Coburn. In June 1963 Coburn had been commissioned to write 100,000 BC (aka An Unearthly Child), a four-part opening serial that replaced an abandoned attempt by CE Webber. Already entrusted with introducing the characters and depicting their prehistoric first adventure, Coburn was soon commissioned to write a second serial, this time of six episodes.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who’s predictions of the future have depicted the destruction of planet Earth and the ultimate collapse of the universe. Alien superpowers have subjugated star systems and galactic empires have fallen, leaving only a few witnesses to the end of time itself. This lavish publication sets the TARDIS co-ordinates for a journey into this dangerous realm, exploring landmark episodes and meeting the talents who brought them to the screen. Packed full of exclusive features, including a wealth of previously unseen images, this is the essential guide to the series’ greatest futuristic adventures.