TV Club: The Aztecs

TV Club is off to Mexico, 1454 where Barbara will be declared a heavenly reincarnation.

All the episodes are available for free on BBC iplayer:

Or you can find it on DVD:

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And so we’ve reached that legendary serial: “Doctor Who and the Tomb robbing Barbara”.

This is such an epic story and it just lives up to it’s hype.
Barbara gets to truly shine with her attempt to change history, though it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. She wants to change the Aztec culture by replacing it with the cultural beliefs that she knows, it is not really her place to decide that.
Susan doesn’t really get much to do except rebel against the cultural expectations of a young woman.

Truly the highlight of this serial is The Doctor and Cameca. Thinking about it I think this is my very favourite Doctor romance of the entire show. He can really see himself settling down with Cameca and live a joyful life tending a garden. It pains him to leave her.
The scene where the Doctor tells Ian that he has been engaged is pure gold :grin:

Such a good story and just filled with amazing lines. Plus the sets and costumes are tremendous :+1:

“You can’t change history, not one line”

Just bumped it up to a 4,5/5 :star: :blush:


This is one of those rare stories for me - a bona fide 5/5. I love absolutely everything about it. It just has memorable scene after memorable scene. The writing is tight and the characters wonderful. Jacqueline Hill is amazing and, frankly, I don’t understand why this story doesn’t top more polls.


This is a story that I enjoy in general but think is pretty much unmemorable.
I finished my rewatch of it five or so minutes ago and have already forgotten most of what happened. I don’t know what it is about this episode because whenever I watch it I’m like. Huh? I like that. But I really don’t know what actually happened during the episode itself.


The Doctor gets engaged by accident; Barbara attempts to change the entire fate of the Aztec civilisation and directly confront their priest of sacrifice when he tries to poison her; The Doctor gets engaged by accident; Susan is almost forced into an arranged marriage with the next sacrificial victim; The Doctor gets engaged by accident; Ian fights their greatest warrior, Ixta but in one battle is felled by the Doctor’s own trick; Ian is trapped in a tunnel filling with water; The Doctor gets engaged by accident; the TARDIS is trapped in a sealed tomb to which the Doctor must find the plans to; The Doctor …gets …ENGAGED…by accident!

I love that scene but what makes it even better is the follow-up scene where he just casually drops the information into the conversation he is having with Ian.


Oh by the way @deltaandthebannermen is this the one where the Doctor gets engaged by accident? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Yes it is! Thanks for reminding me @BillFiler - it’s such a funny scene. I can’t believe I forgot to mention it.



The first superb classic of Doctor Who and the best story of the original Season 1. This is a wonderful historical four-parter with a memorable villain, well-written regulars, and a good exploration of Aztec culture. As stated above, this is a top-three story for Jacqueline Hill and Barbara, and the Doctor’s (accidental) engagement to Cameca is such a heartwarming subplot that it allows William Hartnell to bring out his softer side. Ian is the action hero, and Susan isn’t too obtrusive, thanks in part to Carole Ann Ford’s holiday during the production of the serial.

Tlotoxl is a fantastic villain. He is arguably one of the greatest villains of the Hartnell era.

This is the one that gave us Ian’s deadly thumb weapon and taught us that “You can’t change history! Not one line!”

I always find it funny that the large stone slab they move on a couple of occasions is very obviously made out of some lighter material than stone, because the actors try to make it seem very heavy, but it wobbles significantly every time it’s moved.

I rate it 9/10 and a heart!


This is a 9/10 for me. One of my favourite classic stories.


While I greatly enjoyed most of the Episodes we got in this Season, I dont believe there were that many amazaing 11/10 Stories for me (even I am big on the Hartnell era). Marco Polo as great as it is suffers from being missing, thankfully this is still completed and what a watch!
Jaqueline Hill plays the role of Barbara already superb, but this one is a great showcase for her Character. At times I find myself having only minor issues, sadly Susan gets the short stick again and her “Subplot” isn’t very interested. The other leads get a lot of great things to do. Especially the idea of the Doctor accidentally getting engaged is entertaining and actually does work pretty well I must say. A true treat for any pure historical fans filled with a good sense of action and humor! Easily one of the crown jewels of this season, not sure if I prefer this or Marco Polo (as much as I love the latter, it can suffer from its pace a slight bit, this one is paced perfectly with 4 Episodes, no complaints on here.


One of the best stories from the first season. The best part is the doctor’s relationship with Cameca. Not only the engagement but also the way he cares for her. I think that this shows how he has developed during the season.

I also listened to the audiobook a while ago and it was also good but did not contribute anything new.

This is a 8/10 and is one of the best first doctor stories (even if it is not as good as The Gunfighters ping: @deltaandthebannermen )


Thanks @Tian now I’ll have The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon on repeat in my mind for the next week or so :roll_eyes:
Although that might push There’s Always a Twist in the End out :thinking: So actually thanks :joy::crazy_face:


You are welcomed!


Nice what they could do with the budgets back then. Beautiful looking stages even if you see a wrinkle in the cloth backdrop here and there.

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And of course it’s only thanks to cleaned up DVDs that we even notice stuff that would have been invisible at the time of broadcast (and pretty much on VHS too).


Always a toss up which version I want to watch with the older episodes with ones I do have. Most the time ease of watching is usually DVDs or digital, plus I don’t have to rewind tapes.

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I’m a lot lower on this one than most people. There’s some great emotional stuff with Barbara and with the Doctor and Cameca, but overall I just find it pretty boring and even as just a 4-parter it always feels like it drags a bit for me.


I think that this is one of my favorite Hartnell stories that I have seen so far. I felt that it did a great job of making the Doctor and companions seem different from each other, as we see Barbara struggle with the proper etiquette for a time traveler, while the Doctor seems to tread in Aztec society with greater ease. I think that this is an excellent showpiece for Barbara, as the story has her in an interesting position where she has a great deal of agency as the supposed incarnation of a goddess. My mother, who is not particularly familiar with this era of Doctor Who, said that she liked Barbara purely based on seeing a few scenes in this serial.
The agency and authority that Barbara displays is an intriguing contrast with the fact that she is an unwitting time traveler at the mercy of a mysterious and sometimes apathetic man known as the Doctor. Perhaps Susan’s plot thread, though not as developed, puts her in the opposite position, as she is used to spending time in societies in which she has more agency, but is expected to acquiesce to marry a man she does not love. Ian’s hand-to-hand combat was also exciting, though I did find it slightly tedious that he was framed for murder again, as Ian was framed for murder in the previous serial.
Overall, I was impressed by this story, especially considering that I did not find John Lucarotti’s Marco Polo to be nearly as enjoyable. A well-earned 8/10.


Remember, the Doctors is accidentally engaged to Cameca, that’s an important detail!

Good! We’ll remind you of it again next week and every week until we watch thr story in the TV Club, and by that time, everyone loves The Gunfighters!


You do realise there are 38 weeks before we hit The Gunfighters, at that point I’ll be so doolally that the Simm Master can go cry to his Mother/Loom about his drums.

Though given the choice between this, The Goblin Song and There’s Always a Twist at the End? I’ll pick The Gunfighters any day!