Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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The Ribos Operation: Part One 

The Doctor is chosen for a quest by The White Guardian to go in search for the six segments to the Key to Time, that have been scattered and sent throughout the time/space continuum. With ... See full summary »


Robert Holmes (by)


Episode complete credited cast:
Tom Baker ... Doctor Who
Mary Tamm ... Romana
Cyril Luckham ... The Guardian
Iain Cuthbertson ... Garron
Nigel Plaskitt Nigel Plaskitt ... Unstoffe
Paul Seed Paul Seed ... Graff Vynda-K
Robert Keegan Robert Keegan ... Sholakh
Prentis Hancock ... Captain
Oliver Maguire Oliver Maguire ... Shrieve
John Hamill ... Shrieve
John Leeson ... K9 (voice)




The Doctor is chosen for a quest by The White Guardian to go in search for the six segments to the Key to Time, that have been scattered and sent throughout the time/space continuum. With the Key to Time, The White Guardian will restore balance to the universe. Joined by a young time lady named Romana, The Doctor, Romana and K-9 Mark 2 begin their quest and arrive at their first destination, The medieval Russian like world Ribos, where a conman named Garron bids to sell Ribos to a exiled tyrant known as Graff Vynda K, where Unstoffe, Garron's assistant uncovers Garron's scheme and is unaware he is in possession of the first segment of the Key to Time. Written by Daniel Williamson

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This episode was watched by 8.3 million viewers on its original transmission. See more »


The Doctor: ...One more thing. Your name.
Romana: What about my name?
The Doctor: It's too long. By the time I've called out, "Look out..." What's your name?
Romana: [slowly] Romanadvoratrelundar.
The Doctor: By the time I've called that out, you could be dead. I'll call you "Romana".
Romana: I don't like "Romana".
The Doctor: It's either "Romana" or "Fred".
Romana: All right, call me "Fred".
The Doctor: Good. Come on, Romana.
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Referenced in Doctor Who: Full Circle: Part One (1980) See more »

User Reviews

Messily written Tom Baker adventure
24 May 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

Review of the Complete Story:

THE RIBOS OPERATION is one of the lesser Tom Baker Dr Who outings. The strength of these serials lies entirely in the calibre of the writing, which just isn't up to scratch here. The story is set on another alien planet, where various factions are competing for possession of a valuable mineral; unlike the Italian and medieval stories found elsewhere in this series, there's a distinctly Russian influence on this planet which has a chilly atmosphere all of its own.

The back-and-forth of the narrative is rather complicated - needlessly, I might add - and lesser than the sum of its parts; come the end, you wonder what exactly has been going on. The only thing the tale has going for it is an outstanding performance from Iain Cuthbertson who plays a larger than life lovable rogue, an outer space salesman if you will, who dominates the screen with his strength of personality.

Baker is on typically good form here, butting heads with his new assistant, the imperious Romana (thankfully her character would be softened in subsequent serials). K9 always makes for a welcome presence, and there's some extra intrigue in that this is the first in the 'Key to Time' six-part serial featuring a mysterious guardian character. It's just a shame that the main story is so ordinary, enlivened only by a very silly dragon-type creature.

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Release Date:

2 September 1978 (UK) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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