Doctor Who (1963–1989): Season 1, Episode 14 - The Roof of the World - full transcript

The TARDIS arrives on Earth in the 13th century, where it is claimed by famed explorer Marco Polo as a gift for his employer, Kublai Khan. Polo hopes to finally buy his way out of the Khan's service - but if he succeeds, the Doctor and his friends will never be able to get back to their Ship ever again... (Originally broadcast in seven parts.)

I, Marco Polo, venetian
explorer and adventurer,

have kept this journal
for many, many years.

Within these pages are maps and
accounts of the many journeys

that I undertook as a young man.

As I reflect on my life,

I have accomplished so much...

I've travelled to the
four corners of Asia,

and walked more miles

that I can't mention.

I have seen sights and wonders in my many years
that no one could ever dreamt of.

The magic of the Buddist monks,

strange unearthly creatures,

black stones that burn,
to name but a few.

Strangest of all,

was the time I encountered four travellers
with their strange caravan.


I remember now.

Let me tell you about the
strangest of all adventures.

That's all started 25 years ago, in 1289,

on the plane of Pamir.

Yes, that's right.

The plane of Pamir.

"The roof of the World."

Must've been made by a giant.

What do you make of this?

Well, it could be a perfectly
ordinary footprint, Susan,

and the Sun's melted the edges
and made it look a bit bigger.

You alright, Doctor?
- Yes... a little bit out of breath.

That's quite understandable.

After all, we're several
thousand feet above sea level.

Do you know where we are then,

Well, I directed the ship towards Earth and
it looks as though I've been successful.

But what about that?

That? I can't see anything without my
glasses. Anyway, I don't like this place.

You'll have to excuse me.
I've got a lot of work to do first.

Barbara, I wonder... do you think
it could be the Earth?

If it were, where do you think
we could be? In the Alps?

Or it could be the Andes...

The roof of the world.

The roof of the world?

I wonder...
If only...

Well... the Doctor isn't very reliable,
you know. Mustn't count on it.

Dear, dear, dear, dear.
We're always in trouble.

Isn't this extraordinary?
It follows us everywhere.

What's the matter?
- All the lights in the ship have gone out.

The whole circuit
has burned itself to a cinder,

and added to that it affected
the water, we haven't got any.

Well, the water's no bother, Doctor.

I mean, we've got snow, plenty of it,
but how about the heating?

The heating as well.
Everything's gone to pot.

But that's serious,
we could freeze to death.

Serious.... Are you telling-

there's no need for you
to tell me that, really.

I think I'd better try and find some fuel.

Fuel? Now where on Earth do you
expect to find fuel here?

Well, I must try, mustn't I?
- Well, I wish you luck.

I'll come with you, Ian.

Thank you.
- Yes, me too.

No, Susan, you stay here.

You stay with me, child.
You might be able to help me.

Come on, Barbara,
we haven't much time.

Now, Susan, go into the ship and fetch me
the 2-L-O, will you? You know what it is.

Even if I do find the fault,
I don't suppose I shall be able to repair it

before it gets dark,
and then we shall all freeze to death.

Ian, wait a minute.
I must rest.

Come on, Barbara. We haven't found
anything yet. We must find something.

Alright then, you go on...
I'll catch up with you.


It's hopeless.


What is it? What's the matter?
- I...

...there was an animal or something.
Just standing there staring at me.

You don't believe me, do you?

Well, look at these footprints.

I'd better take you
back to the ship.

Can you mend it, Grandfather,
or have you got to make a new one?

I'm afraid it's going to need a new one,
dear, and it's going to take me days.

Well, I don't know, really,
I always seem to...

Well, Chesterton?

Just as you predicted, Doctor,
nothing but snow and ice.

- Have you found the fault?

Yes, yes, yes, but it's going to take
such a long time, and time we don't have.

Now the only chance is to try
and get down to a lower altitute and,

you know,
before it gets cold, and we...

Doctor, there are strange things on
the mountain. I saw one of them.

What's she talking about now?
- Well, I only saw a print.

Print? What sort of print
paws, hooves, what?

To tell you the truth, I thought
it was made by a fur boot,

No, Ian, I'm sure it wasn't human.

And if it were, that means
there's shelter nearby.

- Look, there it is.

Quick, after it.
It's our only chance of shelter.

Come on, Grandfather.
- Alright. Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Which way'd it go?

- Keep still.

We're travellers, lost on the mountains.
Will you give us shelter?

Hear me, Mongols,
in these parts live evil spirits,

who take our likeness to deceive
us and then lead us to our deaths.

Let us therefore destroy these evil
spirits before they destroy us.

We're not evil spirits.
We are people like yourselves.

Destroy them.
- Stop.

Put up your swords.

Would you have us killed?
These are evil spirits.

I command you in the name
of Kublai Khan.

The old man has the mountain sickness?
- Yes, he has.

My caravan is further
down the pass. Come.

Come on, Doctor.

Who is he, Barbara?
- I was asking myself the same question.

We have guests, Ping-Cho.
They are cold and hungry.

Yes, Messr. Marco.

Sit down, Doctor.
- Yes, yes...

Thank you, my dear.

Not like her, or any of the others.
- No, he's a European, Susan,

and he mentioned Kublai Khan.
- Kublai Khan?

He was a great Mongol leader,
who conquered all of Asia.

He had a European in his service.
He was a Venetian and his name...

I'm afraid the liquid
is not too warm,

but the cold here is so intense,
it even robs a flame of its heat.

It's excellent nourishment, sir.

The cold can't affect
the heat of the flame, sir.

The liquid boils at a lower temperature,
because there's so little air up here.

You mean,
the air is responsible?

Well, the lack of it.

Just as the lack of it is responsible
for the Doctor's mountain sickness.

Is your name Marco Polo?
- It is, my lady, and may I ask who you are?

We're travellers... yes.

That's my grandchild, Susan,
and that's Miss Wright, and that's Charlton.

Ian Chesterton.

My companions are the
Lady Ping-Cho and the Warlord Tegana.

We travel to Shang Tu.

Shang Tu?
That's in China, isn't it?

China? I do not know this place.
Shang Tu is in Cathay.

Silly of me.
Yes, of course, Cathay.

Well, you must all be very tired. Ping-Cho,
you will share your quarters with...

- Susan. I will sleep here with the others, and Lady...?

Miss Wright.
- Miss Wright, you will have mine.

Thank you.
- Thank you, you saved our lives.

I am rather curious to know why you were
wandering around the mountainside at night,

but questions can wait until morning.

There were two, young man,
that I would like to ask.

Well, ask them.
- What year is this and where are we?

You do not know?
- That is why I'm asking you.

How long have you been travelling?

It is 1289 and this is the Plain of Pamir,

known to those who travel to
Cathay as The Roof of the World.

The Roof of the World?


Are you asleep, Susan?
- No.

Where are you from?

That's a very difficult question
to answer, Ping-Cho.

You do not know where your home is?

Well, I've had, many homes,
in many places. What about you?

I come from Samarkand.
My father is government official there.

But I thought Mr. Polo said that...
- Messr Marco. That's what we call him in Cathay...

Well, I thought Ms...Messr. Marco said that you
were going to Shang Tu. Are you on holiday?

No. Kublai Khan's summer palace is in
Shang Tu. I am going there to be married.

What? But how old are you?
- I am in my sixteenth year.

Well, so am I.

Do you marry at our age
in your land? Here it is the custom.

Is your fiance handsome?
- My what?

Your... the man you're going to marry.
- I have never seen him.

- The marriage has been arranged by my family.

I know only two things about him.
- Well, what are they?

He is very important man.
- That's a good start.

...and he's seventy-five years old.

You should have let me kill them.


Because their clothes
are different from ours...

...because their words are
unfamiliar to our ears?

No, Tegana, they are travellers.

They are evil spirits...
sorcerers... magicians.

Tomorrow, if we live until then, you
may see that I speak the truth.

I think the Sun's rays will dispel the
shadows from your mind, Tegana.

Is that what you believe.


the carriage they travel in
has no wheels.

It just stands there like a
warlord's tomb on one end.

And another thing...

it is not large enough
to carry four people.

It must be.
- I say it is not,

and yet,
I saw all four walk from it.

Upon my sword, I swear it to you.

So, this is your caravan?

Yes, the Doctor calls it the TARDIS.
- Where are the wheels?

It doesn't have any.
- Then how does it move?

Through the air.
- Did I not say they that they were evil spirits?

Are you of the Buddhist faith?
- No, why?

Well, at the Khan's court in Peking,

I have seen Buddhist monks make cups of wine,

fly through the air unaided and offer
themselves to the Great Khan's lips.

I do not understand it, but I have seen it.

There is room for all of you inside here, Miss Wright?
- Yes.

And one enters here?

It's locked.
- Where is the key?

The Doctor has it, and you
wouldn't let him come up here.

Yes, he has the mountain sickness.

Have you the power to make it fly?
- No, only the Doctor has that power.

Why is it here?
- It's damaged.

- Part of it is broken.

But it could be moved by hand?
- Yes, if you had sufficient men.

Well, we'll make a sledge and
take it down the pass...

...then we shall see.


this smells very, very good.
What is it?

Bean-sprout soup, my lord.

Allow me.

It's delicious, delicious.
- My lord is kind.

You know, it's rather surprising to
find the daughter of a high government,

official working as a servant
in Marco Polo's caravan.

I wish to serve, my lord, although,
among Messr. Marco's retinue,

there is a man who calls himself a cook.

His name wouldn't be Tegana, would it?
- No, my lord.

The Warlord Tegana
is a special emissary,

from the camp of the great
Mongol Lord Khan Noghai,

who has been at war with Kublai Khan.

Mongol fighting Mongol.

The war is over, my lord.
Noghai has sued for peace,

and Tegana travels to Kublai's court
to discuss the armistice plans.

Yes... oh well...
For an emissary of peace,

I must say he has rather
bloodthirsty habits, doesn't he?

I find your caravan
most unusual, Doctor.

Yes, Messr.
Marco, it is different.

And in need of repair?
- That is true.

Messr. Marco has ordered
a sledge to be made.

He's going to bring
the TARDIS down here.

Indeed? That's charming of you,
very charming of you.

It won't take me very long to repair,
a day or two.

But I assure you that I shall not hold up
your journey any longer than is necessary.

I'm afraid we can't stay here, one crosses
the Plain of Pamir as quickly as possible.

However, we will be spending
a few days at Lop.

Where is that?

It's a town on the edge of the Gobi
Desert, beyond Kashgar and Yarkand.

I see, and you will be taking us along
with you, including the TARDIS?

Doctor, I once transported
an entire army and its equipment,

from Cathay to India, all without loss.

Good.... good...
then I can work as we proceed.

- Why not?

The Mongol bearers still half
believe that you are evil spirits.

They also believe that outside your
caravan, you are harmless.

However, should any of you attempt
to enter, there would be trouble.

I see.

You saved our lives, Messr.

and the least we can do
is to respect your wishes.

No one will enter the TARDIS
until we reach Lop.


Success... my plan has worked.

The strangers and their unusual
caravan accompany me to Lop.

Our route takes us across
the Roof of the World,

down to the Kashgar Valley
and southeast to Tarkand.

Here, we join the Old Silk Road,
along which the commerce, and culture,

of a thousand years
has travelled to and from Cathay.

I wonder what the strangers' reaction will be
when I tell them what I propose to do?

My caravan is large, Yeng,
so I shall need plenty of food and water,

before venturing out
into the Gobi Desert.

Is the accommodation
to your liking, Ping-Cho?

Thank you, Messr. Marco.
It is most comfortable.

I think it's fab.
- Fab? What is that, Susan?

Well, it means wonderful.
It's a verb we often use on Earth.

Messr Marco, these way-stations,
do you have many of these in Cathay?

Yes, the Khan has them dotted at
regular intervals throughout his domain.

Those who work in his service
and wear the Khan's gold seal,

have the right to demand
anything they may require,

provisions, horses, shelter.

May I have a look, please?

Of course.
- Thank you.

- Yes.

They've set the TARDIS
up in the courtyard.

Excellent, excellent. Yes, well, if you'll
pardon me, I have a lot of work to do and...

What does this mean?
- Please sit down, Doctor.

I don't wish to sit down,
I want you to call your guards off.

Please, be seated.
- No.

I beg you to hear me out.
- But I have work to do.

I think, perhaps, we should
listen to him, come on.

Very well.

My home is Venice,

I left there with my father and
my uncle to come to Cathay in 1271.

The journey to Peking took
us three and a half years.

When I arrived at the
Khan's court, I was 21.

I was an alert young man, good at languages,
and willing to learn. The Khan liked me.


On my twenty-fifth birthday, I was given
an appointment in the Khan's service.

- It was, as you say, 1277.

Since then, I have travelled to every
corner of his domain and beyond it.

Two years ago, my father, my uncle and
I asked the Khan for permission to go home.

He refused.

I think we had all served him too well.

Well, I really don't see what this has
to do with my repairing the TARDIS.

Doctor, I have not seen my home for
eighteen years. I want to go back.

Well, ask the Khan again.
- I intend to.

But this time, I shall offer him
a gift so magnificent,

that he will not be able to refuse me.

You mean to give
the Doctor's caravan to him?


You're mad.

You can make another.
- What. In Peking, or Shang Tu?

You do me an injustice, Doctor.
I will not leave you stranded in Cathay,

just as I did not let you die
on the mountain.

No, you will come with me to Venice
and make another one there.

You think so, really? No, no.
- Marco, it's impossible.

Surely, for a man who possesses a flying
caravan, all things are possible?

No. We need special metals, materials,
things that don't exist in Venice.

I'm afraid you don't understand
all the problems involved.

And neither do you,
young man.

Well, travel home by ship.
We trade with every port in the world.

It may take you longer,
but you'll get there eventually.


He doesn't know what he's talking about.
The man's a lunatic.

No, Doctor... desperate.

There are many men who are
jealous of the Polo influence at court,

and the Khan suffers from an
affliction for which there is no cure.

What's that?
- Old age....

If he dies, I may never see Venice again.
- Well, that is your problem, not mine.

I have just made it yours, Doctor.

But you do see Venice again,
Marco, I know you do.

What makes you so sure that the
Doctor's caravan is a suitable present?

The Doctor is the only one
who can fly it.

I told you about the Buddhist monks,
they will discover its secret.

A caravan that flies, do you imagine
what this will mean to the Khan?

It will make him the most powerful
ruler the world has ever known,

stronger than Hannibal,
mightier than Alexander the Great.

Marco, you don't understand.
- I refuse to listen to any more.

My mind is made up.

Your caravan goes with me
to Kublai Khan.

Doctor, come on.
Come and sit down.

Well, what a mess.
- Grandfather. Grandfather.

Yes. Go by sea, he says.
- Why are you laughing? He means it.

Doctor, he's serious.
- I know he is. Yes.

But what are you going to do?
- I haven't the faintest idea.

Be careful, my lord.
One drop will poison an army.

I will use it well...

...on all but the first
of Marco Polo's water gourds,

for tomorrow, the caravan sets
out to cross the Gobi Desert.

Now, you will follow us and on the
third night, I will walk back to you,

then we're gonna ride back here to Lop,
wait for two days and then,

return to the caravan,

to collect the thing of magic,

that will bring the mighty
Kublai Khan to his knees.