Doctor Who (1963–1989): Season 1, Episode 15 - The Singing Sands - full transcript

Tegana sabotages the party's water bags, leaving them in dire need of fresh supplies.

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!


I have taken charge of the travellers' unusual
caravan, and set out into the Gobi Desert.

The journey across this vast ocean
of sand is slow and hazardous.

To make matters worse, the old Doctor continually shows his
disapproval of my action by being both difficult and bad-tempered.

For three days now, during which time we
have covered no more than thirty miles,

I have had to endure his insults.

(Ping-Cho is pouring water into a small bowl in front of Ian.)

How much water does a caravan like this
use crossing the Gobi Desert, Marco?

We will use one barrel every five days, Ian.
I have allowed for eight gourds to carry us across to the other side.

The bones of many men who thought they
had enough lie bleached in the desert sand.

(Tegana holds out his bowl for more water.)

I think we should exercise some restraint, Tegana.

I'm sorry the Doctor wouldn't
eat with us this evening.

Yes, so am I, Messr Marco.

- I've given him food...
(Susan rises and takes the food to the Doctor's tent.)

- A game of chess, Ian?
- Oh, well I'm not very good, but I'll give you a game.

(Marco starts to set up his chess set.)
- I gladly accept your challenge.

- What magnificent pieces!
- Yes, I purchased them in Mamutz, on my first journey to Cathay.

- Now, they go with me everywhere.
- Do you, ah...

- I'm sorry... Marco...
(Susan returns to Doctor's un touched food and leaves.)

- Do you play chess, lady?
- Not very well, Tegana. Excuse me.

(Barbara follows Susan out.)

I find it a fascinating game of strategy of war.

Two equally balanced armies
deployed upon a field of battle,

and each commander determined
to be the one who cries 'shah mat'.

Shah mat? Check mate?

It means the king is dead.

We'll get the TARDIS back, Susan.

Yes, at Kublai Khan's Court,
when it's too late.

We should be up there -
another time, another galaxy.

- Oh, we'll think of something.
- How? Ian's playing chess with Marco.

- Grandfather's being rude and sulking by himself.
- Oh, I don't think he's sulking, is he?

Well, he won't eat.
He won't even talk to me.

Well, you know him better than I do.
I'd have said he was just feeling defenceless.

He has a wonderful machine, capable of all sorts of miracles,
and it is taken away from him by a man he calls a primitive.

Look, TARDIS is the only home
we have at the moment.

When we're in it,
we feel safe and secure.

When we're out of it...

Will he talk to me? Confide in me?

Oh, he's like a rubber ball. He'll come
bouncing out of there soon full of ideas.

One day, we'll know all the
mysteries of the skies...

and we'll stop our wandering...

Then you and I will say good-bye.

Ummm? Oh, not yet. Not for a long time!

- Well, I think we should say goodnight anyway.
- Are you coming?

- No, not for the moment.
- Goodnight.

(Susan goes back into the tent.)

- Ping-Cho?
- Shhh! She's gone to bed.

Oh, well... I'll go too then. Goodnight.

- Goodnight, Susan.
- Sleep well.

Now, what was I about to do? Ah yes...


- Not asleep yet?
- No, I was thinking.

- What about?
- How peaceful it is in the desert.

Oh, it's a lovely night!
The moon will rise later.

That is the time to see the desert.
It is like a great silver sea.

- The metal seas of Venus...
- Where?

Oh, a long way from here.

I've never seen a moonlit night.
How long before the moon rises?

Two or three hours. I'll call you then.

(Barbara enters the tent.)

Night in the desert is very beautiful.

Don't be deceived by it, Miss Wright,
the desert is always dangerous.

Like my Queen!


Oh, Marco, can you save your King?

I think so, Tegana.


(Susan beckons Ping-Cho over to the tent flap.)

(The two girls emerge from the tent.)

Oh crazy...

- hey Ping-cho.
- Sssh! The guard will hear you.


Hmm, we like dig it. You know - like it.

This language of yours is very strange.

(They sea Tegana move up to the
guard, then walk away.)


- Let's follow him.
- He'll be angry!

- You're not afraid?
- No. I am not. Come.

(The two girls follow Tegana.)

(In the tent Tegana's bed-roll lies empty.)

(The sound of the horse wakes Marco.)

(Marco crosses to the door and looks out.)

- What is it, Marco?
- The horses are very restless.

- There's a sandstorm coming, Ian.
- How do you know?

Notice how still it is.
As if everything were waiting.

They sense it too.

- Will it be a bad one?
- Bad enough. I must attend to the horses.

(Marco goes back to put his boots on.)

- He walks so quickly. Can you still see him?
- Yes. There he is, over there.

- Oh, let's give up.
- Who is afraid now?

No, I'm not afraid. It...
Isn't is so hot?

I can hardly breathe.

Yet it was most pleasant
when we left the caravan.

- Oh, come on, let's go back.
- Alright.

Susan, listen!

- What's that?
- Where?

- That cloud on the horizon.
- Susan, it's a sandstorm!

What! It's coming this way!

- Ping-Cho, we must get back before it reaches us!
- No, the caravan's too far away!

- No, come on! We must get back. We can't stay here!
- No, we'll get caught in it - and we'll never find our way!

- Ping-Cho, come on!
- No, we must shelter here.


- Ian, what is it? What's happened?
- Don't be afraid, Barbara. It's a sandstorm.

It sounds as if all the devils
in hell were laughing.

- It's the wind shifting the sand.
- It's terrifying!

Not always, Barbara. Sometimes, it sounds like musical
instruments being played - the clashing of drums and cymbals.

I've heard it sound like a great many people
talking as they trekked across the desert.

It can also be like... like a familiar
voice calling your name.

You're not the only one to be afraid.

Travellers of the Gobi Desert have good
reason to fear the singing sands, Barbara.

It's fantastic that the doctor's still asleep!

- Tegana's not here! His bed's empty!
- What?

- Has anyone seen him?
- Well, he can't be out in this!

- He must be!
- Well, what will happen to him?

- If he finds shelter, he'll be alright!
- Well, can't we do anything?

- Nothing.
- I think I'll see if the girls are alright...


Tegana's no fool. He can look after himself. Don't worry...

- They're gone... they're not there!
- Gone?

- Barbara, you can't go out there!
- Let go!

(Barbara dashes for the door,
but Marco grabs her.)

Barbara, you'll be lost in seconds!

- Calm down, Barbara! Marco's right - there's nothing we can do!
- The girls...

- We must wait. There's nothing we can do now!
- Oh, it's all your fault anyway!

If you hadn't kept us prisoner here,
none of this would have happened!

Ping-Cho, what's that?

There it is again... It's Ian...
I can hear him!

Ian!... Ian!... Ian!...

Ian!... Ian!... We're here


- Let me go look for them.
- Not until it's light.

- Let me go as soon as the storm is over!
- Ian, you'd miss them in the dark. You must wait until it's light!

- We can't just go on sitting here!
- Shh! The Doctor's still asleep.

We don't want him to know about the girls.

Barbara, I give you my word that until
we find the girls, we will not leave this place.

Susan! Do you know you had us half
worried to death. Where have you been?

- We went for a walk.
- A walk!

Without asking me?! Don't you dare do that again!
Do you understand? That also applies for you, Ping-Cho.

I'm sorry, Messr Marco.

Has Grandfather been very worried?

Luckily for you, he's been
asleep the whole time.

And we don't want him to
know anything about this.

I'm surprised that you'd encourage
such a venture, Tegana.

Ahhh... they weren't with me! I found
them - crouched behind a sand dune.

- You were alone?
- Well, it was a pleasant night.

I decided for a walk. I told the
guard - he knew all about it.

In future, the guards will be told to notify me immediately
if any of you wish to leave the camp.

Now go and change,
we have to break camp soon.

Yes, Messr Marco.

This has been a terrible experience for us all, Marco.
Couldn't we spend one more night here?

- I'm sorry, Miss Wright.
- But surely one day can't make all that much difference?

One day without progress is one day's water wasted.
And in the Gobi Desert, that could mean the difference between life and death.

(Tegana moves to the door and leaves the tent.)

(He takes the phial of poison from his jerkin.)

Progress today has been good, although
we were all very tired after a sleepless night.

How can I ever repay Tegana
for saving Ping-Cho and Susan?

We covered fifteen miles before I gave
the order to set up camp for the night.

- Susan! Susan!

I still can't get this sand out of my hair.

Last night there were moments when
I was sure I would never be here again.

Ping-Cho, did you believe Tegana last night,
when he told Messr Marco about going for a walk?

Why not?

Well, I don't think Tegana's the kind of man
who goes for a walk just because it's a nice night.

I think he goes because he has a reason to go.

- Susan, why would he lie to Messr Marco?
- I don't know.

He's an important man. He's a special emissary of the great Mongol leader
who has been at war with Kublai Khan.

Tegana is to arrange a peaceful settlement between them.
Would a man like that lie about walking in the desert?

No, no he wouldn't. That's what's so strange...

- What?
- The fact that he did.

(Tegana is cleaning his sword, Marco writes in his journal.)

What is that you do?

I keep a journal.

- Why?
- Because it interests me.


(Tegana raises his sword, Marco leaps up drawing his own.)

That's excellent, excellent.

But it's better a man keeps
the blade of his sword clean,

and it's edge sharp.

(Tegana sheathes his sword.)

You continue your writing, Marco.
I'll see to the horses tonight.

I'll... I'll give the guard his instructions.

No, send him to me. Please.

( Marco goes back to his work
as Tegana leaves the tent.)

(Outside a Mongol guards the wagons.)

(Hearing a noise the guard moves away.)

(Tegana creeps up to the wagon.)

(Pulling out his dagger, Tegana cuts open the water gourds.)

Water runs from the gourds onto the desert floor.)

(Marco and Ian are looking at the empty gourds.)

- All of them, Marco?
- Yes, except for the one we're using.

- How much is there left?
- Without rationing, enough for today.

- And with rationing, how long will it last?
- Three... four days.

- Is there enough to get us back to Lop?
- If we're very careful with it, yes.

- But who would have done it?
- Bandits, Ian.

- Bandits? In the desert?
- Yes, it has happened before, but not to me.

The bandits follow a caravan out into the desert.
Then one night, this happens.

The caravan is forced to turn back. Then, when
everyone is weak through lack of water, the bandits attack.

- So if we turn back, we're bound to be attacked.
- Yes.

Then we shall fight.

There must be somewhere else we can go to.

The nearest is a small oasis, but that's
one weeks journey north from here.

Marco, if we pressed really hard, walked day
and night, how long would it take us?

- Five, possibly six days.
- As long as that?

Yes, and with the water rationed
we'll be growing weaker all the time.

There is another danger, Ian.
Bandits always camp near an oasis.

- Then we must go back to Lop.
- But they're bound to be waiting for us there.

No, we must go north, and take a chance.

Yes, what Ian says makes sense.
We go to the oasis.

We shall all die of thirst. I will not go.

- Then what will you do?
- Return to Lop. I'm not afraid of any bandits.

- Just give me my share of the water...
- No, Tegana.

(Tegana's hand moves to his sword.)
- You refuse the War-Lord Tegana?

I am commander of this caravan, and I am
responsible to Kublai Khan for your safety.

We go north, together.

Have I made the right decision?

Each day, our progress towards the oasis becomes less.
On the first day, we covered twenty miles. On the second, fifteen.

The third, ten. The fourth day's total was eight.

Now on the fifth day we have travelled only two miles
before the heat of the sun has forced us to stop.

We are nearly exhausted, and our situation is perilous.

(The caravan has stopped until the sun relents.)

The worst of the sun is nearly over.
We must move on again as soon we've had this.

(Marco pours water from a jug. Ian passes the cups around.)

- The bearers have their rations?
(Marco nods.)

(As Marco pours out Iam's cup the jug runs dry.)

You take it.

We will share.

Marco, is this all we're going to get until tonight, hmm?

Until we reach the oasis, Doctor, yes.

- There's no more?
- How much further?

I cannot say.

I will go to the oasis and bring back water.

Do you think you could reach the oasis?

Yes. My... my horse is still the strongest.

Very well, Tegana.

You wait for me here.

No. While we can, we'll push on towards the oasis.

- Good luck, Tegana!
(As Tegana leaves Marco looks at the sun.)

We must go.

(As they start to move the Doctor collapses.)

Oh, Grandfather!

What's the matter with him?

- He's exhausted!
- We'll fix up a cot for him in the wagon.

To be jostled and bumped about? He needs to
rest in comfort, Marco. What about the TARDIS?

He'd be more comfortable, Marco.

Please, Messr Marco!

Very well. The Doctor can travel in his own caravan.
Susan, you can go with him.

But you, Barbara, and you, Ian, must remain with me.

Thank you,


Without water, the Doctor isn't
going to last twenty-four hours.

None of us are, Ian, without water.

Our fate rests with Tegana.

(At the oasis Tegana drinks from a full water gourd.)

Here's water, Marco Polo.

Come for it!

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