The Greatest Show In The Galaxy is the 152nd serial in the series. It's the last story of the 25th season and the 4 parts aired from December 14 1988 to January 4 1989. Sylvester McCoy is the 7th Doctor and Sophie Aldred is Ace. The script is by Stephen Wyatt who only wrote one other script for the series, Paradise Towers. It's directed by Alan Wareing who would directs a couple more Doctor stories the next season and then go on to direct hundreds of episodes of Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Not shows I would watch myself. Andrew Cartmel is the script editor and John Nathan-Turner is the producer.
John would have a lot of trouble with this episode. After the location shooting was done the cast and crew came back to London to find the BBC studios had been closed because of asbestos. The BBC said they couldn't rent any other companies studios and of course all the BBC properties were overly full. The serial was briefly cancelled until John Nathan-Turner figured out that they could erect a giant tent in the car park of the BBC Elstree Centre and shoot there. The thin walls and top of the tent were no barrier for ambient noise but they managed to get the show shot.
The Doc and Ace get invited to the Psychic Circus on the planet Segonax. Ace isn't too interested, she's no fan of the clown, but they go anyway. Other travelers arrive too. There's something sinister going on at the circus. People are killed mysteriously and the Doctor and Ace are in jeopardy. The Psychic Circus used to travel about the galaxy but they have gotten stuck on this planet under the control of three of the Gods of Ragnarok. The circus people make their customers perform and the Gods kill those who do not satisfy them. They are pretty big dicks, those Gods, so most people are killed. The Doctor will soon kick their jaded asses. Sadly many of the circus staff die in the fight.
I enjoyed this episode for the most part. It had a nice level of the bizarre and there was some danger and humor. I did like the evil head clown played by Ian Reddington. He was voted Best Villain of the year by Doctor Who Magazine readers. He was pretty creepy. Chris Purdy plays one of the circus staff and I couldn't place why he was familiar. It turns out he was Ian McShane's assistant in Lovejoy. I watched that whole series a while back and enjoyed them for the second time through. Most of the other actors I wasn't familiar with but I have seen T P McKenna in The Saint and other British TV. Daniel Peacock, whom I first saw on The Comic Strip Presents and The Young Ones plays the biker below. Everyone in the crew wanted to drive the motorcycle and Sophie said she had a turn.
There's a nice enough commentary with moderator Toby Hadoke, Sophie Aldred, actor Christopher Guard, composer Mark Ayers, Stephen Wyatt and actor Jessica Martin. There a making of the episode featurette, some deleted scenes, a short on a model shoot, a Psychic Circus music video, Mark Ayers music demo reel, a look at the newspaper coverage of the Seventh Doctor, a sketch from the Victoria Woods show with Jim Broadbent as the Doctor, a photo gallery, info text, isolated score, a coming soon promo for the Planet Of Giants DVD, the Radio Times listing and Visual Effects designs and storyboards PDFs.